Free agent Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki will sign a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners with an invitation to spring training, the Seattle Times reported Thursday. “He and his wife are in Seattle this week, and sources say he will sign a minor-league contract with a spring-training invitation,” the newspaper said. “The signing might not be announced until after the holidays.”
The 30-year-old Kawasaki had earlier said in Japan that his ardent wish is to join his idol and mentor Ichiro Suzuki at the Mariners, adding he would even accept a minor league deal and be flexible about which position he plays. Kawasaki and Suzuki were twice teammates in the World Baseball Classic.
Kawasaki batted .267 with 161 hits and 31 steals in 144 games this past season for the Softbank Hawks, who won their first Japan Series championship since they were the Daiei Hawks in 2003.