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.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.