Braves send Kenshin Kawakami and his $6.7 million salary to Double-A

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How far out of favor has Kenshin Kawakami fallen in Atlanta? Well, yesterday the Braves demoted him to Double-A, where he’ll earn $6.7 million while pitching against hitters a dozen years his junior.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes that they sent Kawakami all the way down to Double-A because “they want to keep the Triple-A rotation open to pitchers who could have an impact in Atlanta this season.”

I understand souring on a player and Kawakami certainly hasn’t been very impressive since coming over from Japan, but the lengths the Braves are going to banish a pitcher with a 4.32 career ERA seems odd. They dumped him from the rotation in the middle of last season and have spent the past six months unsuccessfully trying to unload his contract, but that doesn’t make Kawakami a useless player.

He’d be a perfectly decent fourth or fifth starter on any number of teams and could come in handy for the Braves at some point this season if they weren’t so hellbent on completely erasing him from their plans. His win-loss record is ugly, but Kawakami’s secondary numbers and 4.32 ERA show a pitcher good enough to contribute to a big-league staff. And now he’s a 35-year-old riding buses in Double-A.

Max Fried loses to Braves in salary arbitration

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried lost to the Atlanta Braves in salary arbitration and will make $13.5 million in the upcoming season instead of his $15 million request.

Mark Burstein, Fredric Horowitz and Jeanne Vonhof issued their decision a day after hearing arguments.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year in arbitration instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal.

He followed former Atlanta teammate Dansby Swanson in going to a hearing in consecutive years. Swanson, a shortstop, lost in 2021 and won last year, then signed a seven-year, $177 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

The last player to win hearings in consecutive years was pitcher Trevor Bauer against Cleveland in 2018 and 2019.

Fried, a 29-year-old left-hander, went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2021, Fried pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.