Japanese Teams Still Interested In Kawakami

Two Japanese teams are willing to acquire Kenshin Kawakami and take on more than half of the $6.67MM remaining on his contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Braves wouldn’t get a player in exchange for Kawakami if they send him to Japan.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham Fighters were linked to Kawakami earlier in the offseason and Braves GM Frank Wren acknowledged that he had "a number of discussions" about the right-hander's future.

The 35-year-old lost his rotation spot last year and even spent some time in the minor leagues. His ERA rose from 3.86 to 5.15, though he posted similar strikeout (6.1 K/9) and walk (3.3 BB/9) ratios to the ones he had in his 2009 rookie season.

Rosenthal suggests that the Yankees, who recently heard that Andy Pettitte will retire, could consider Kawakami.

63 Responses to Japanese Teams Still Interested In Kawakami Leave a Reply

  1. Goldberg365 4 years ago

    I would trade him for 2 bats and a bag of peanuts at this point.

    • I love comments like this because it helps separate the people who actually pay attention to baseball from those that don’t.


  2. $1529282 4 years ago

    The hatred Braves fans have of Kawakami is just weird. He’s not an elite starter, but he’s not paid like one either. He’s a perfectly capable back-of-the-rotation arm. He may be slightly overpriced, but if Atlanta eats a couple million I don’t see why some team wouldn’t add him.

    • bbxxj 4 years ago

      Just irrational hate based on the lack of WINZZZ

    • Goldberg365 4 years ago

      Mainly because of his complete inability to find the plate, the better options in the minors, but the continued use of him because of his contract price.

      • Since_77 4 years ago

        Thanks for the scouting report. Why would a team want to trade for this guy?

      • “Mainly because of his complete inability to find the plate”

        Dude walks 3.3 per nine and strikes out 6.1/9. Not great, but Kawakami’s troubles have little to do with finding the plate.

        His troubles last season were some occasional balls left over the plate, primarily, followed by some poor defense behind him, and a poor offensive effort by his team to boot. I’m not going to deny that he can hang some pitches, but your analysis is, frankly, pretty poor and is by no means supported by the eye or the statistics.


        • austinhb 4 years ago

          Yes i dont remember a lot of walks, what i remember with kawakami is he would often get behind in the count, and then leave a ball up, which really hurt him, im glad you picked up on that as well

    • We are just sick of him losing… He pitches decent sometimes, but we have many better options than him, but yet we still used him. Now that we dont use him, that 6 mil. just looks horrible

      • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

        A pitcher doesn’t win or lose a game by himself. If the team doesn’t score runs for him he has no chance of winning. KK had the lowest run support of any pitcher in MLB in 2009. His FIP is 4.26 which is very decent for a back of the rotation pitcher.

    • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

      I agree. I can’t figure out why so many Braves’ fans hate him either. He would be ok if the Braves would just put in the #5 spot in the order and just leave him there. Instead, last year they pulled from the rotation and left Medlen in as a starter when Hudson returned. This happened even though he had pitched a gem. While Medlen is the better pitcher he also was used to pitching out of the bullpen (and KK was not). Bobby then left him rotting on the end of the bench in the BP for three solid weeks and then put him in the game. Of course he was rusty and gave up a bunch of runs. After that, he was relegated to non-existence. Bobby Cox did him no favors last year. I wouldn’t blame him if he has some ill feelings towards the Braves. Between the team giving him no run support on days he pitched and Bobby’s strange use of pitcher’s he didn’t have a chance.

      KK would be a decent #4 or #5 pitcher for a team if he is just left alone and not pulled in and out of the rotation all the time.

      • Jeff 4 years ago

        The braves have much better options for that slot though

        Minor, Medlen when he returns both are better choices.

        • roberty 4 years ago

          I would rather see Rodrigo Lopez get some starts this year than Kawakami. Seriously.

        • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

          I would agree. However, too many people think KK is a terrible pitcher. He isn’t. He is a decent bottom of the rotation pitcher (for most teams) who was grossly misused and mistreated by Bobby last year.

    • BG921 4 years ago

      I totally agree, by using information from Fangraphs Kawakami’s advanced pitching stats aren’t much different than Jair Jurrjens. When I watch a Braves game it seems like the players who fell out of favor with Cox or some of the “veteran players” get slammed by not only the local media, but also by the commentators. So, I think allot of the “hatred” comes not only from fans not seeing him collect wins (even though he pitched pretty well), but also from the propaganda that was created by various media outlets and as well as the commentators (AKA Joe Simpson, who seems to hate every player that’s flashy or plays with a flair).

      • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

        Exactly!! Joe Simpson and Bobby Cox hated Yunel Escobar and guess who go ridden out of Atlanta on a rail. I expect the same to happen to KK. And I won’t be surprised when he has a decent season for some other team.

        • Give me a break…

          Bobby Cox said before the 2010 season that he thinks Escobar can become the best SS in the NL. The Braves had very high hopes for Escobar and he was one of the better all-around SS’s the two years prior, so there must’ve been something going on to move him for a package like that. You’re not an insider, nor are you a part of management. Don’t act as if they just unfairly ‘hated’ Escobar.

    • roberty 4 years ago

      If you have the mlb.tv package check out some of his starts from last season. You wont want him as your fifth starter either. Takes forever between pitches, never throws strikes, gives up tons of extra base hits…there is a lot more to the guys (lack of) success than his K/BB rate and FIP.

      • Yeah, there were also a ton of errors in the field, lack of run support, etc., that really doomed him.

        Although he’s clearly not of the same caliber, I liken his 2010 performance to that of Zack Greinke’s at the beginning of the season (he started 1-8). He had some quality starts blown by lack of run support, others by errors in the field, etc. Once that occurs often enough, it can completely screw with a pitcher’s mindset. All of a sudden, every pitch has to be perfect, every corner has to be hit, etc., or the pitcher feels like he’s going to lose.

        To place the blame solely on his shoulders isn’t fair. He had seven games (of his 16 starts, nearly half) where he gave up three or less earned runs over the course of 6+ innings and won just one of those games. At some point, your offense has to help you out or your season is going to look a lot like his.


      • How does ‘never throws strikes’ translate to a career 3.3 BB/9?

        Control isn’t his problem. His problem is his fastball doesn’t move. His breaking pitches barely move, and when he throws changeups……that’s where he’s having control issues, he can’t locate his changeup to save his life. He doesn’t have a deceptive delivery, quite the opposite really. It’s incredibly easy to see the ball out of his hand…

        But having said that, a club can certainly do a lot worse than Kawakami at the backend of a rotation. Problem is, most of those guys are cheaper. So a team getting a year of Kawakami for just roughly $3 million seems pretty fair to me.

        • xNobleEaglex 4 years ago

          Keep in mind that I don’t hate KK, but BB/9 doesn’t really tell the whole story. He didn’t necessarily give up a ton of walks, but he fell behind in the count A LOT. When you pitch behind most hitters (especially with finesse stuff like KK), that’s where you give up your hits/extra base hits/HRs etc because then you HAVE to throw strikes, so you don’t walk everyone. And his fastball wasn’t anywhere near being able to overpower people when he got behind them.

    • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

      I feel the same exact way. Why the hate for KK and not for someone like Derek Lowe?

      • xNobleEaglex 4 years ago

        While I see where you’re going with this, Derek Lowe wins at the end of the day. If KK had a winning record as a Brave like D. Lowe, you probably wouldn’t hear a lot of hate for him.

        • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

          And that is a really dumb reason to “hate” a pitcher or not. I think wins should be completely removed as a stat for pitchers. A TEAM wins or loses the game, not the pitcher.

  3. nicknunziata 4 years ago

    I’m a Braves fan and assume there’s some behind the scenes reason the guy fell from favor. I like him and think he’ll excel if given the chance to be what he is: a decent 5 or 6 inning pitcher.

    • paulyicecubes 4 years ago

      I’ve heard there were some disciplinary/attitude issues with him. He wasn’t responding well to suggestions by Bobby and Roger McDowell on how to adjust to American hitters and find more consistency.

  4. ZoinksScoob 4 years ago

    Yanks already have Kei Igawa in the minors; why would they want/need Kawakami?

    • bbxxj 4 years ago

      Because Kawakami has actually had some sustained MLB competency?

    • $1529282 4 years ago

      Because Kawakami is better?

    • wickedkevin 4 years ago

      Buy US war bonds…

    • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

      Right right, just because they’re both Japanese, they must be the same. Brilliant!

  5. The Yankees should do more than consider him; they should trade for him right now.

    Signed, The rest of the AL East

  6. At the rate the Yanks’ rotation options keep spiralling downward, I’m thinking by the time spring training starts, I have a real shot.

    I should probably practice my curve.

  7. withpower 4 years ago

    I think that’s a bit of a sour deal — paying +$3MM for a roster spot and not getting a player back in exchange.

    It’s outdated that in 2011 there isn’t any kind of loan program between the leagues other than buying and blind-auctions.

  8. Bo 4 years ago

    He’s a solid player and I for one don’t hate him. I feel for the guy honestly. He’s a very decent back of the rotation starter and locked in at a decent price, it just so happens that he’s playing on a team that has plenty of 5th starters all at very low cost (Minor, Beachy, Lopez). He will make some team pretty happy and eat a decent number of innings per start.

    I wish him the best wherever he goes, and I also hope he goes somewhere that he can contribute and prove his value.

  9. Yeah, but if KK doesn’t want to go back to Japan, he can stop the trade. He wants to stay in the MLB (apparently). Feel like this has been the same problem for the past few months. What’s changed?

    • inkstainedscribe 4 years ago

      The only thing that’s changed is that Kenshin may be pitching in AA if he does not agree to return to Japan. (To be sure, the Yankees may give him/the Braves another option, but still …)

  10. BG921 4 years ago

    THANK YOU!!! I agree with everything you just stated…. (I meant this towards 14 Rocks, but for some reason it was posted at the end of the page, sorry about that!)

  11. Mr. Kawakami caught a bad break, but the Braves really do have absolutely no need for him now, especially after signing Rodrigo Lopez. I hope an MLB team jumps in and offers to take on more salary because I think he deserves an MLB job, but if not……good luck in Japan, Kenshin.

    And Wren needs to give up on wanting a player back in return wherever he’s sent. It’s not gonna happen…..just take the salary relief.

  12. ATL_Mindset 4 years ago

    i hope he goes to the Yankees


  13. If the Yankees get him it would be just too much for me! Its already been a hilarious offseason for them and this would be the cherry that goes on top, haha

  14. in 2009 kk pitched a perfect game through 5 innings… jus thought that was interesting

  15. unbiasedhomer 4 years ago

    He did pitch a perfect game on MLB 2K10.

  16. roberty 4 years ago

    Wren should hold onto Kawakami. No reason to give him away for salary relief, as there isn’t really anyone left to spend that money on. I don’t feel sorry for Kawakami. I would gladly suck twice as bad for half as much money.

    • you can’t look at it that way. if wren gets 3 million back on a trade for kawakami, the braves would have some wiggle room to pick up a player to fill a weakness later in the season (if a weakness exists).

    • There’s just no sane reason to hold onto him when you’ve got this:

      Medlen(assuming he returns on schedule)

      Now, Kawakami is probably a better option than Lopez, Redmond, and maybe Beachy. But you see what I’m getting at here, he’s not even needed for insurance purposes….

      • BravesFanForever 4 years ago

        Brandon Beachy has more potential. It’s pretty clear that we’ve seen all that Kawakami can deliver. A move to the AL might be a decent move since the hitters in that league haven’t seen him as much as the NL hitters have. Might get away with using him for a season as a #4 or #5 with a 4.00+ ERA.

  17. Guest 4 years ago

    Are you serious!?
    I thought he was traded to the pirates like 2 months ago…
    I guess that didn’t work out…

  18. East Coast Bias 4 years ago

    You know he threw a perfect game last year right? …It was in MLB 2k10, but still, helped some guy win a million dollars. Google it!

  19. The fact that Braves fans hate KK with such a passion is just.. I don’t get it I guess. As it’s been repeated over and over, the guy wasn’t bad for what he was considered; a #5 starter on a team that wasn’t in dire need of pitching. KK’s problem wasn’t that he didn’t get *some* run support. He got almost NO run support. If I remember the stat right.. didn’t he actually get some of the last urn support besides King Felix? If he would have gotten half of the run support that Lowe got, he would have had at least a few more runs.

    Anyway, obviously things aren’t fixable now and it’s best if the Braves trade him off. I’d be pretty irked if I had to deal with what Kawakami’s had to deal with. They’ve been respectable, sure, but he’s got a lot of undeserved hate heading his way. I feel bad for the guy. Anyway, it’s the Braves fault for overpaying him anyway.

    I hope the guy gets a spot on a roster this coming year and is able to actually get some runs, though. Good luck, Kawakami!

  20. BravesFanForever 4 years ago

    Kawakami is an interesting pitcher. He is old enough and experienced enough to hold his own but he doesn’t quite have the stuff to maintain himself on the Braves roster. Just as people have said, he often will pitch okay then leave a ball up which is hammered. I think it’s simply the lack of “stuff” that keeps him from being a better pitcher. A better pitcher with better stuff like Tommy Hanson could get away with leaving one up now and then. No pitcher has perfect pin point control, but what the great pitchers have is the ability to keep batters guessing and the hard throwing great pitchers can buzz a bad pitch past a batter now and then and get away with it.

    So Kawakami in a way pitches like a guy who is much older who is at the tail end of his career. A guy who looks like he know what he is doing but gets hit anyway.

  21. humdinger17 4 years ago

    the more i look at this move, the bette i like it…so many options…

  22. humdinger17 4 years ago

    the more i look at this move, the better i like it…so many options/so little money

  23. Michael Gardiner 4 years ago

    One example. How about the two times KK did not allowed any runs and got no decisions. 7 QS out of 16 from a #5 starter is actually not bad. 2009 he went 7-12 with a 3.86 ERA. The guy is not good but is not bad either. He was just always a victim of bad run support. While people talk about JJ’s poor run support, it has been shown that KK actually receives less.

  24. I don’t deny that the Braves have better pitchers than Kawakami. I’ve never said otherwise. However, that has nothing at all to do with whether Kawakami is a bad pitcher or not.

    I watched nearly all of Kawakami’s starts last year. What you see is a typical #4/#5 pitcher, nothing more or less. When he gets in his groove, he can give you 6-7 (if he’s not pulled for a PH in the fifth) innings of 2-3 run baseball. When things go wrong, he doesn’t do especially well. This is pretty common among the low-end starters of the game.

    Does he deserve his full salary?? Maybe, maybe not. His salary is pretty typical for a solid #4/5 that’s past his arbitration years. He’s not a reclamation project that is worth risking only $1MM plus incentives on, or a pitcher that deserves to be a non-roster invitee for most MLB clubs (although with the amazing rotation depth the Braves possess, I totally agree with sticking him with that spot on this ballclub).

    I’m not sure why you chose to debate this using a one-game sample size…Tommy Hanson got 8 runs dropped on him by the Reds last season. Does that mean he should get tossed out of the rotation?? Obviously not. There’s plenty of compelling evidence you could have provided to argue that he’s not a great pitcher, but you squandered the opportunity. But thanks for giving it the ol’ college try.



    A Braves fan who happens to understand baseball

  25. austinhb 4 years ago

    Hes also the only player in the modern age to face an opposing teams ace in 9 straight starts, he definitely doesnt deserve a spot on the braves roster, but he could be a valuable asset to another team

  26. Did you just knee-jerk the Pirates train of thought?? He’d probably be a 2/3 there, honestly. McDonald is better, Maholm and KK are neck-and-neck, with Maholm holding a slight edge statistically. Career-wise, Correia’s worse, although his 2009 may offer at least a little hope for him. The rest of their pitching staff is fodder.


  27. austinhb 4 years ago

    yeah the game i remember most about kawakami is when he went 8 innings of no run ball, and lost 1-0 because of an inside the park hr when mclouth ran into heyward

  28. austinhb 4 years ago

    So 8 er against the reds in 2 innings and 7 er against the white sox in 4 innings is better than 7 inning 1 run ball and 6 inning no run ball, dude you are making no sense. He got demoted because we had much better options, not solely on the fact that he was losing.

    he only had 1 bad game against the marlins, giving up what 6 runs in 3 innings? he also had a qs against them earlier in the year going 6 innings

  29. How does 7 IP, 1R, 2H, 3BB and 6K even remotely compare to 1.2 IP, 8R, 8H, 2BB and 2K, other than the walks??

    No, I totally got the part where he got demoted to AA because he refused to be traded back to Japan (can’t trade people to other countries without their permission). It had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with his trade refusal.

    Did you miss the part where Bobby sat him on a bench for a month, so they jerked him down to Gwinnett to “stretch him out” for five starts amounting to 21 innings before tossing him to the wolves in that game against the Marlins?? 21 innings over five starts isn’t exactly the best job of stretching a pitcher out, is it?? I’m sure his 22 total innings in the 9 weeks between MLB starts had nothing to do with his performance against the Marlins.

    Care to miss again??


  30. Kawakami didn’t make 5 innings in four of 16 starts, if you include that abomination of an idea throwing him in September after basically having two months off. So really, three of 15 games…one of which he’d only given up three earned runs.

    Pitching at least five innings in 80% of your starts (12 of 15, since I don’t include that final Marlins game) is pretty good for a typical #4/5. No one’s ever going to say KK is a #1/2 starter like Tommy Hanson, but for what he was and for what a typical player in his role is expected to do, KK did just fine.

    This idea that he doesn’t pitch well enough to win games is a bunch of hogwash bandied about by folks who have watched very little baseball outside of the Braves rotation. Most other teams would welcome a player of his caliber to pitch as a #5, and probably a third of the teams could use him as a #4.

    Just because he doesn’t match up to the rest of Atlanta’s rotation doesn’t mean he isn’t a valuable player. Whether he’s worth the full $6.67MM is another debate, but he’s not a bad player.


  31. As an aside, Tommy Hanson didn’t make five innings in four of his first 16 starts, either. Same average as KK over the same time period.

    Once again, I’m not saying KK is even remotely comparable to Hanson, but most if not all pitchers have bad outings.


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