Toronto Blue Jays re-sign Munenori Kawasaki
Rejoice, Toronto Blue Jays fans, Munenori Kawasaki is coming home! The 33-year old second baseman has signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Kawasaki will likely compete for a job as a utility infielder with the Toronto Blue Jays, and at worst, provide reliable infield depth from AAA Buffalo
Kawasaki appeared in 82 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, posting a slash line of .258 / .327 / .296 with 7 doubles, 1 triple and 17 RBI. Another season of those numbers would be fairly welcome in Toronto, although he may not play much of a leading role in the Blue Jays plans.
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Spring Training could shape up to be a wide open tryout at second base, barring a move for a short-term upgrade at the position. Kawasaki will need to use the month of March to prove to John Gibbons and Alex Anthopoulos that his versatility around the infield makes him worthy of the 4th spot on the bench. His presence could allow the Blue Jays to pinch-hit players like Dioner Navarro or Justin Smoak for the second baseman late in games which they do not start, as he could then take over defensively.
Then again, the same could be said for someone like Ryan Goins or Steven Tolleson. The likeliest scenario that I see entering the season is Maicer Izturis having a paper-thin grip on the starting job with the Toronto Blue Jays, with 2B of the future Devon Travis heading to AAA Buffalo for some final seasoning. One of Goins, Tolleson and Kawasaki will win a Major League bench spot, while the others could find themselves blocked by Travis in AAA as he may be the first call-up if he is performing by mid-season.
There’s no denying that Munenori Kawasaki is one of the most beloved athletes in Toronto, both for his workman’s mentality on the field and his eccentric personality off of it. Much of the Blue Jays offseason seems to be centred around changing their clubhouse atmosphere, and the addition of Kawasaki will only improve things on that end. This won’t be the move that brings a home run title and 6.0 WAR to Toronto, but it is a cheap, sensible move that provides quality MiLB depth with a fan-favorite.