Free Agent Stock Watch: Takashi Saito

Reliever Takashi Saito told reporters today he's uncertain about his future, but still believes he can pitch, according to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Free agent stock watch time!

The Pros

  • Back in the National League, Saito's numbers this year were reminiscent of his Dodgers days: 2.83 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and four home runs allowed in 54 innings.  Unlike last year with the Red Sox, Saito was particularly tough on right-handed hitters.
  • Saito is likely to sign a one-year deal.
  • He could handle a closing job, and that strict usage would effectively limit his workload.

The Cons

  • Saito turns 41 in February.  Back in 2008 he became the first pitcher known to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection into his elbow, which allowed for a quick recovery from a torn ulnar collateral ligament.  With the Braves this year he dealt with hamstring and shoulder ailments.  At this point in his career Saito cannot be counted on for 50 innings.  I'm no doctor, but you'd have to worry about that ligament fully tearing.
  • 2009 may have been a fluke, but Saito's periperhals suffered in the American League.

The Verdict

Saito signed with the Braves for a $3.2MM base salary and another $2.3MM in incentives.  If his shoulder and elbow check out, there's no reason he should sign for less this time around.  In fact, he'd have a case for a raise.  He'll be appealing to most teams looking for a tough late-game reliever, but clubs will attempt to keep the base salary low and sign him to an incentive-laden deal given his age and recent injury history.

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