After a 10-year career in Japan shortstop Munenori Kawasaki became a free agent last month and publicly stated that he only wanted to play for the Mariners.
That obviously limited his bargaining power considerably, but ultimately Kawasaki got his wish and revealed yesterday that he’s agreed to a minor-league deal with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.
Kawasaki is an eight-time All-Star and career .294 hitter in Japan, but has never hit more than four homers in a season and will likely be competing for a utility man role in camp.
It used to be that the top dog in a team’s baseball operations department was the general manager. That has changed over the past several years with some combination of title inflation, a genuine addition of supervisory layers and, on some level, employe poaching insurance leading to the top dog now being called, usually, a “president of baseball operations.”
Brewers’ general manager David Stearns is the latest to assume that tile, as the club just announced that he has been promoted to Milwaukee’s president of baseball operations. He has also received a contract extension of unknown length.
Not a big shock given how well the Brewers did in 2018, winning the NL Central title and playing in the NLCS. It’s also worth noting — with a nod to that “employee poaching insurance” item above — that Stearns has drawn some interest from other organizations. It’s thus not unfair to see the promotion is both a thanks for a job well done and a means of keeping other teams’ hands off of him, as employees are generally not given permission to interview for lateral moves, but are given permission to interview for promotions.
The Mudville Nine may have wanted to steal him from Milwaukee, but for Stearns to get a promotion from where he is now would require the creation of some other lofty title.