The on-again, off-again legend of Munenori Kawasaki has once again reached a potential endgame — and it looks like it’s going to stay there for good this time.
Though the sum of $1 million on a team option might not sound like much in the baseball world, it was the difference that leads to the Toronto Blue Jays parting ways with the fan favourite. So I suppose the next logical question is, was it worth it? Will setting the infielder free help the team going forward?
While the move is not without its consequences, let’s just call it what it is — a minor move that should not have any real impact on the 2014 Blue Jays barring disaster striking Jose Reyes once more. We could look at his 0.8 fWAR production for the team last year and see that it was worth approximately $4 million for the position, but the issue is that if the team’s plan went accordingly, the Japanese import would be playing in the minor leagues next season.
And if the (somewhat conflicting) reports of Kawasaki having a $2 million deal waiting for him at home in Japan, why would he want to stay?
Ultimately, the money here is inconsequential in the big picture of the team’s payroll concerns, although it does mean a couple of things. The first is that they’re almost certainly locked into acquiring a second baseman for 2014. That was pretty much established even before Kawasaki’s option was declined, but that the team has little to no depth there serves to punch home the point.
Maicer Izturis is stuck on the bench with the team hoping the he won’t cost them wins, and should Alex Anthopoulos be unable to make any moves this offseason for some reason, the team would have to go with with Ryan Goins as the starting second baseman, which is a scary prospect regardless of his defensive prowess.
Going along the same line, you might say that the move could actually affect the future of a guy like Aaron Sanchez, whose blue-chip prospect status might be the only thing that Toronto has left that can land them a solid second baseman of the present and future. The righty is probably too high of a price of pay for someone like Gordon Beckham, but could be moved as part of a package for a player like Howie Kendrick.
Now, I realize that these don’t really say much as to whether or not the team has made the right move going forward by letting Kawasaki go, but the truth of it is that any pros and cons are so minor that ambivalence is a viable approach here. On one hand, he did provide the team with a spark and made the franchise more likable; on the other hand, it’s not like he was going to be a piece that would have either increased or hurt the Blue Jays’ chances in 2014 either way.
So … I suppose you could say that it’s hard to have a decisive feeling about his departure — which is almost too bad, really, because his time with the team was fun while it lasted.