Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along reports from Japan that Kenshin Kawakami has agreed to a deal with the Chunichi Dragons following a disappointing three-year stretch with the Braves.
Kawakami inked a $23 million contract with Atlanta in 2009 and had a solid rookie season for the Braves, tossing 156 innings with a 3.86 ERA and 105/57 K/BB ratio.
Then he began 2010 by going 1-10 with a 5.15 ERA and the Braves demoted him to the minors, never to be seen again. Kawakami didn’t pitch as terribly as those numbers would suggest, but he totally collapsed last season with an 8.41 ERA at Double-A.
Kakakami is 36 years old now, but he was a star in Japan before joining the Braves, going 112-72 with a 3.22 ERA in nine seasons while winning Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.
Last Thursday, we learned that the MLBPA was challenging the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system, delaying Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball. The latest collective bargaining agreement removed a lot of the incentive for players to come to the U.S. by capping pay. Ohtani, for example, can only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million while his team — the Nippon Ham Fighters — would receive $20 million for posting him.
Jon Morosi reports that the deadline for this issue to be resolved is 8 PM ET on Monday evening. He notes that key NPB officials have worked through the night in Japan to try to reach a resolution. It is possible that even if no agreement is reached, the deadline could be pushed further back.
Ohtani, 23, has become a heralded hitter and pitcher in Japan. At the plate over his five-year career, he has compiled a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,170 plate appearances. On the mound, he has a 2.52 ERA with a 624/200 K/BB ratio across 543 innings.