Kenshin Kawakami: Not Worth $23 Million

Looking through last year’s free agency, there is one player who signed a big contract who I had never heard of:

Kenshin Kawakami.

He’s a starter for the Atlanta Braves and signed a 3 year, $23 million contract with them this past offseason. Now, Kawakami is 34 years old and before this year, had never pitched in the Major Leagues. So WHY?

Why did the Braves shell out all this money for a pitchers years past his prime who has never faced big league batters?

Kawakami pitched extremely well in Japan, posting a 2.30 ERA last season while striking out 112 batters in 117 1/3 innings. But, the transition to MLB has hurt so many Japanese pitchers that shelling out all that money for a player already 34 years old just doesn’t make sense. The Red Sox put a huge amount of money into Daisuke Matsuzaka, expecting him to compete for Cy Youngs here, but instead he has struggled mightily and is 1-5 this year with an 8.23 ERA (He’s on the DL now). Remember the Yankees’ Kei Igawa? That worked out real well too. There is a history of dominant Japanese pitchers failing in the United States and those pitchers were in their prime. Kawakami isn’t. Continue reading “Kenshin Kawakami: Not Worth $23 Million”