Braves drop Kenshin Kawakami from 40-man roster

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Just in case there was any doubt that the Braves have completely given up on Kenshin Kawakami, they dropped him from their 40-man roster today, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The Japanese right-hander passed through waivers and was sent outright to Double-A Mississippi.

Kawakami, 35, is 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 50 games (41 starts) since signing a three-year, $23 million contract with the Braves prior to the 2009 season. This includes a 5.15 ERA to go along with an ugly 1-10 record this past season. Though Kawakami was removed from the 40-man roster today, he is still owed $6.67 million for next season.

Braves general manager Frank Wren is trying to swing a deal with a major league club, but his best bet may be to find a willing suitor in Japan. Bowman reports that the Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham Fighters have contacted the Braves to express their interest. An unidentified third team has indicated to the Braves that they would be willing to pick up more of Kawakami’s salary than either the Giants or the Fighters.

With the Braves trying to set a budget for their offseason, I would expect Wren to find a resolution sooner rather than later.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.