The Braves are looking to part ways with starter Kenshin Kawakami and, according to one source, the Pirates have shown some interest in the right-hander this offseason. That certainly makes sense, given that the Pirates are searching anywhere and everywhere for starting pitching and that Kawakami is expendable to the Braves.
Kawakami, 35, is set to make $6.667 million in 2011, the final year of a three-year deal he signed with Atlanta. The Braves know that they will have to pick up a significant amount of that salary in order to trade Kawakami, so the cost to acquire him would likely only be $1-2 million. Atlanta is not believed to be seeking any significant player return, either.
After posting a 3.86 ERA in 32 games (25 starts) in 2009, Kawakami never really found his footing last year. He finished 1-10 with a 5.15 ERA in 18 games (16 starts), though he suffered from a lack of run support in a number of his outings. Kawakami was sent to the Minors at two different points during the year and was taken off the Braves’ 40-man roster last month.
Japanese clubs have shown interest in purchasing Kawakami’s contract from Atlanta. But the right-hander has expressed an interest in staying in the U.S. for at least one more year.
Heard today that the Pirates are still eyeing upgrades at short, though that is no different than what I reported late last week. While J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett have been linked to the club in varying reports, St. Louis’ Brendan Ryan has also drawn mild interest by the Pirates.
In four seasons with the Cardinals, Ryan has played mostly at short. He hit .223 with two homers in 139 games last season. Ryan became expendable to the Cardinals after St. Louis acquired Ryan Theriot.
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