On This Day: 10 years ago today, the Blue Jays signed Munenori Kawasaki
Has there ever been a more electric player to wear the Toronto Blue Jays uniform than Munenori Kawasaki?
On this day 10 years ago, the Jays signed the middle infielder to a minor league contract with an invite to big league Spring Training. The rest, as they say, is history.
After breaking into the league with the Seattle Mariners in 2012, Kawasaki did not perform well enough on the field to warrant his being kept around in Seattle. He was an energetic player who could play all around the infield but didn't do anything at the plate worth noting.
Just one month into his tenure on the Jays, he was promoted to the big leagues when incumbent shortstop José Reyes was placed on the injured list. When he debuted in Toronto, he became the first-ever Japanese position player in franchise history.
Kawasaki was an instant fan favorite thanks to his hilarious journey to learn the English language and his antics both on and off the field.
I mean, just watch this. How could you not love the guy? Every single player on his team loved him and he even was able to make friends with arch rival David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.
Kawasaki's first career home run in 2013 made him the oldest player in Blue Jays' history to hit their first career homer. He was shuttled up and down between the major and minor leagues over the next few seasons, but the impact was already made.
He was released at the conclusion of the 2013 season but was immediately re-signed to another minor league contract. The following season around the same time, he was released and re-signed again. The Jays just couldn't get enough of him.
Kawasaki followed the team in 2015 as they went deep into the postseason, despite the fact that he was not a part of the playoff roster. He kept the energy high and was said to be one of the best teammates around.
The stats were never there for Kawasaki. For someone like him, they didn't need to be. He was paid next to nothing and provided above-average defense at second base, third base and shortstop and had a knack for hitting in the clutch.
Now that all is said and done, Kawasaki played parts of three years in a Blue Jays uniform, hitting 15 doubles, six triples, one home run and driving in 43. He managed to record an OPS+ of just 77 but again, his value came in so many other ways than just offensive output.