Kenshin Kawakami Is Choosing His Team

Kenshin Kawakami

According to multiple reports, Kenshin Kawakami, a 33-year-old right-hander formerly of the Chunichi Dragons, looks like he'll be the next Japanese player to sign with a major league team. Where exactly he lands, though, is a point of a contention.

One report out of Japan suggests he's nearing a deal with the Braves, which jives with what Yahoo's Tim Brown is hearing. But Steve Melewski of MASN Sports has a source claiming that the Orioles "remain in the mix, no question," which seems to suggest Kawakami has yet to shut any doors -- at one time or another, the Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox and Pirates are also believed to have expressed interest.

Kawakami missed time late in the 2008 season with a sore back, but in 20 starts he posted a 2.30 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 117 1/3 innings. For context, those are better numbers than what Koji Uehara (who signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Orioles earlier in the week) posted last year, or what Hiroki Kuroda (who signed a three-year, $35.5 million deal with the Dodgers last winter) posted in 2007, his final season in Japan.

Those numbers may be somewhat misleading -- there's also evidence that suggests he's not quite the pitcher that Kuroda is -- but scouts seem to agree that he'll be no worse than a solid No. 3 or 4 starter. He's also a year younger than Uehara, which helps his case to land a longer contract. But with whom will he sign? Stay tuned.

Kenshin Kawakami Is Choosing His Team originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Fri, 09 Jan 2009 19:45:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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