Kawakami is a 33-year-old right-hander who won 112 games in 11 seasons for the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese League, going 9-5 with a 2.30 ERA last season. A four-pitch guy (though without a great fastball) and a good athlete, he projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the states.
He's drawn interest from six or seven teams; the Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox, Twins, Pirates and Orioles were in, the Yankees were thinking about it. But, the Braves were aggressive even before Smoltz ran off to Boston, given their rotation goes Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez and Jorge Campillo before running into haziness.
Outbid by the Yankees for A.J. Burnett and, somehow, by the Red Sox for the iconic Smoltz (and the Dodgers for Rafael Furcal), the Braves conceivably could sign Lowe and Kawakami, leaving the division-rival Mets (along with the Dodgers, Brewers and Orioles, etc.) to sort through the likes of Tim Redding, Randy Wolf, Oliver Perez, Jon Garland and Pedro Martinez.