According to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times, Takashi Saito wants to pitch a third season for the Dodgers in 2008. With a 1.73 ERA in 135 career innings, Saito’s finishing up perhaps the best-ever two-season run by a Japanese pitcher. Some folks are comparing him to Dennis Eckersley, though Saito doesn’t know who that is (hat tip to East Windup Chronicle).
Hernandez questions how Saito would react if another team were to offer him more money. However, I don’t think that’s an issue here. As he was last year, Saito is tied to the Dodgers by his service time. He’s not a free agent this winter.
The massive success of Saito, Hideki Ojakima, and others can only lead to an increase in demand for Japanese relievers – especially given the low salaries. Take free agent Koji Uehara. Mike Plugh told me there’s no reason for MLB teams to consider him as a reliever even though he’s closed for all of 2007. However, a recent Yahoo Japan article quotes an NL scout who thinks he would have more success in the pen.