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Munenori Kawasaki looking to sign with National League club

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Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Fan-favourite Munenori Kawasaki might not be returning to the Blue Jays organization in 2016. In responding to a fan's question after the Buffalo Bisons' annual Hot Stove Luncheon, Blue Jays' director of minor league operations Charlie Wilson stated that the free agent infielder is leaning towards signing with a National League club.

"We liked him a lot and we certainly tried [to re-sign him]," Wilson said, saying that the Blue Jays were in negotiations with him this offseason.

Kawasaki, 34, came to the major leagues as a free agent in 2012, signing with the Seattle Mariners. It is with the Mariners where he first became known to North American fans for his GIFfability.

He first signed with the Jays in 2013 before re-signing in 2014 and 2015. He split his time between Toronto and Buffalo the past three seasons, with fewer and fewer games played in the big leagues every year since 2013. Despite his lack of success on the field, his joyous and sometimes strange demeanour made him a fan favourite in both Buffalo and Toronto and he would often get bigger cheers from the crowd stepping up to plate than anyone else on the roster. Well liked by his teammates, Kawasaki got to stay with the Blue Jays during their playoff run despite not being on the roster.

Kawasaki will get a better chance at staying in the bigs on a National League club as teams in the senior circuit can have an extra bench player as they do not have to carry a designated hitter.

There was already some speculation (at least from yours truly) that Kawasaki was not returning to Toronto after his #66 was re-assigned for Rule 5 draftee Joe Biagini.

We loved you in Toronto, Kawasaki-san (if you're reading this). Good luck wherever you're headed--hope you'll find the time to have more bush parties.

UPDATE

The National League club has been revealed to be the Chicago Cubs.