Kawakami remains an option


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Winter Meetings ended this morning with the Pirates still engaged in talks with the Atlanta Braves about a trade for pitcher Kenshin Kawakami. The Baltimore Orioles no longer seem interested in the right-hander, which could give the Pirates the inside track.  After the Rule 5 draft, GM Neal Huntington stopped to talk with Kawakami’s agent.

There are two potential hangups. The first is how much of Kawakami’s $6.67 million contract the Braves are willing to eat. The second could be the status of lefty Paul Maholm, whom the Pirates have made available.

If the Pirates trade Maholm, they could insert Kawakami into their starting rotation as an experienced (albeit less reliable) replacement.

The Braves are desperate to get rid of the 35-year-old Kawakami. Over the past two seasons, he has a 8-22 record with a 4.32 ERA. Three weeks ago, he was dropped from Atlanta’s 40-man roster and outrighted to Double-A.