Jennifer Langosch reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates have shown some interest in Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kenshin Kawakami. The Braves owe Kawakami one year and $6.667 M on his three year deal, and are expected to pick up all but $1-2 M of his salary, while not wanting much in return.
Kawakami had a strong debut in the US in 2009, with a 3.86 ERA in 156.1 innings, along with a 6.0 K/9 and a 3.3 BB/9 ratio. He was a bit lucky with a low BABIP and HR/FB ratio, along with a slightly higher strand rate. His xFIP was 4.61, which was worse than his ERA. In 2010 he went the other direction, posting a 5.15 ERA in 87.1 innings, with similar walk and strikeout ratios. This time around his BABIP and strand rate were unlucky, and his xFIP was 4.56.
If the cost was only $1-2 M, with no big return going the other way, then Kawakami would be a good, low-risk option for the back of the rotation.