Hisanori Takahashi Rumors

Phillies Interested In Hisanori Takahashi

The Phillies are showing interest in Hisanori Takahashi, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. Philadelphia declined J.C. Romero's option a few weeks ago, so they're in the market for a left-handed reliever.

The Mets were unable to work out a new contract with Takahashi despite numerous deadline extensions earlier this month, and they were contractually obligated to release him. The 35-year-old is reportedly seeking a three-year deal worth upwards of $15MM coming off his first season in MLB. In 122 innings with New York, he struck out 8.4 men per nine innings and walked 3.2, resulting in a 3.61 ERA. Takahashi made a dozen starts and 41 relief appearances, filling in as closer when Francisco Rodriguez was injured late in the season.

Tim Dierkes examined Takahashi's free agent stock in-depth back in September.

Odds & Ends: Renteria, Huff, Takahashi

Four years ago today, the Padres traded Josh Barfield to the Indians for Andrew Brown and Kevin Kouzmanoff.  Only Kouzmanoff panned out to any extent; he was sent to the A's with Eric Sogard in January for Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston.  With Kouzmanoff and Hairston non-tender candidates, Sogard and Cunningham could be the remaining threads of the deal.  Links for Monday…

Takahashi Seeks Three Years, $12-15MM

5:18pm: David Waldstein of The New York Times reports that the two sides are expected to announce later today that they could not reach a deal. The Mets will have to release Takahashi per the terms of their contract.

11:56am: Hisanori Takahashi has until midnight to negotiate a deal with the Mets, but it doesn't look like the sides will reach a deal unless the left-hander lowers his demands. Takahashi is asking for a three-year deal worth $4-5MM per season, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com confirms Heyman's report (on Twitter).

The Mets offered Takahashi a one-year deal before current GM Sandy Alderson took over, according to the New York Times. If the Mets don't agree to a deal with Takahashi tonight, he would not be able to re-sign in New York and pitch before May 15th. That essentially means he's signing elsewhere if he doesn't reach an agreement with the team tonight.

Mets Offered Takahashi One-Year Deal

Most of the news regarding the Mets and southpaw Hisanori Takahashi has been about extending their deadline to work out a new deal, but now David Waldstein of The New York Times brings some actual contract news. The team offered Takahashi a one-year deal heavy with incentives, but the lefty wants two or three years guaranteed. That offer was made before Sandy Alderson took over as GM, however.

The 35-year-old Takahashi did everything the Mets asked of him in 2010 and then some, working as both a starter and reliever, and even filling in as closer when Francisco Rodriguez was on the disqualified list. In 122 innings, Takahashi put up a 3.61 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. Before that he spent nine years with the Yomiuri Giants.

We heard the two sides were discussing a new contract last week, and they have since agreed to push the deadline to get a new deal done back to November 5th. If no deal is reached by then, the Mets would not be able to re-sign Takahashi to a major league contract until after May 15th because of an obscure rule (Rule 8(i)(2), to be exact). 

Takahashi, Mets Discussing Extension

FRIDAY: The Mets have extended their deadline with Hisanori Takahashi to November 5th, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (via Twitter).  If the two sides don't come to an agreement by then, the left-hander will become a free agent.

Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reported yesterday that the two parties were considering an extension of the deadline.

SUNDAY: Even amidst their search for a general manager, the Mets have been discussing a deal that would keep Hisanori Takahashi in New York, writes David Waldstein of the New York Times. Waldstein reminds us that the Mets have just one more week to re-sign Takahashi; due to a loophole in his contract, the left-hander can become a free agent if he and the Mets don't agree on a contract by October 31st.

According to Takahashi's agent, Peter Greenberg, the two sides have had discussions about an extension, though it's not clear how far along the talks have progressed. With the Mets' GM situation still up in the air, assistant GM John Ricco has been handling the negotiations.

"We have been talking," Greenberg said. "Hisa loved his time in New York, and hopefully, something can be worked out. If not, then he will have to look elsewhere."

If the Mets don't reach an agreement with Takahashi by next Sunday, his time in New York is almost certainly over. Because of the nature of his contract, the 35-year-old wouldn't be able to sign a major league deal with the Mets until May 15th. After a successful rookie season in which he posted a 3.61 ERA in 122 IP, Takahashi likely wouldn't have any trouble securing a major league contract this winter on the open market.

Odds & Ends: Daniels, Takahashi, Byrnes, Lee, Gray

Links for Wednesday, as Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum duel in Game One of the World Series…

  • Jon Daniels called a report indicating that he asked the Mets (through back channels) to hold off on their GM announcement until after the World Series "complete bull," according to CBSSports.com's Scott Miller. Daniels can opt out of his contract after the season since the Rangers were sold this year.
  • Hisanori Takahashi switched agents from Peter Greenberg to Arn Tellem, tweets Newday's David Lennon. We learned that Takashi and the Mets were discussing an extension just a few days ago, but it appears that the lefty is positioning himself to test the free agent waters.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the "belief in the sport" is that Josh Byrnes will join the Padres' front office after losing out on the Mets GM gig. Byrnes has strong ties to San Diego's front office, most notably owner Jeff Moorad.
  • Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe wonders if the Tigers and Red Sox are getting ready to battle for the same free agents in a few weeks.
  • The Yankees have had internal discussions about how much money they'd be willing to offer Cliff Lee, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network.
  • The Cubs outrighted Jeff Gray to Triple A, so he’s no longer on the team’s 40-man roster. The 28-year-old righty struggled through 9.1 big league innings this year.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains that the Red Sox will have trouble finding another pitching coach like John Farrell, the new Blue Jays manager.
  • Omar Minaya isn't sure whether he'll stay with the Mets, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Heyman says there's a decent chance Minaya returns, since he gets along well with owner Fred Wilpon and incoming GM Sandy Alderson.

Davidoff On Alderson, Valentine, Takahashi

In his latest piece for Newsday, Ken Davidoff notes that Bud Selig's job as commissioner occasionally involves making recommendations for teams searching for general managers. Selig recommended Jack Zduriencik when the Mariners were looking for a GM two years ago, and, more recently, gave Fred Wilpon a list of suggestions for the Mets. Given the "close ties" between Selig and Wilpon, the commissioner's backing of Sandy Alderson could carry significant weight. Here are the other items of interest from Davidoff's article:

  • Although he has interviewed for multiple managerial positions, Bobby Valentine may end up back at ESPN next year rather than in a major league dugout. The Mets are still a possibility for Valentine, but if Alderson becomes the GM, he figures to make a cheaper, lower-profile hire.
  • Potential free agent Hisanori Takahashi is open to remaining a reliever, meaning he won't necessarily seek out a situation where he has a chance to start.
  • The last report we heard on Takahashi suggested that he'd prefer to remain a Met. However, Davidoff indicates the Yankees, Phillies, and Dodgers also "intrigue" the Japanese lefty.

Mets Rumors: GM, Manager, Takahashi

The Mets intend to hire a general manager by the World Series, but it may take significantly longer for the organization's choice to turn the team into a contender. After three days of conversations with GM candidates, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon told Dan Martin of the New York Post that top executives believe the team needs some work.

"They all know the reality of where we are," Wilpon told reporters. "It's not a bad perception, but they understand the reality."

The Mets don't have a manager under contract for 2011, but they'll wait to hire a GM before choosing a skipper. Once Wilpon and other Mets executives decide between Allard Baird, Rick Hahn, Josh Byrnes, Sandy Alderson, Logan White and others, selecting a manager will become a priority.

ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that Alderson has an excellent relationship with owner Fred Wilpon and definitely wants the Mets to hire him (Twitter links).

The new GM will also have to determine whether to pursue Hisanori Takahashi, who can become a free agent at the end of the month. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes on a Japanese report indicating that Takahashi seeks a two-year deal and would prefer to remain with the Mets (Twitter link). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggested last month that Takahashi could seek a two-year deal worth $2.5MM per season plus incentives.

Mets Notes: Ryan, Hahn, Takahashi, Feliciano

For the first time in six years, the Mets are looking for a new GM.  ESPN's Adam Rubin has the latest.

  • The field of GM candidates has about 32 names.  Five to seven will be interviewed in person (twice), with a resolution hoped for by month's end.  Terry Ryan and Rick Hahn are on the list, reports MetsBlog's Matthew CerroneSI's Jon Heyman expects the Mets to consider Josh Byrnes, Sandy Alderson, Gerry Hunsicker, and John Hart as well to head their baseball operations.
  • In the meantime, interim GM John Ricco will begin discussions with free agents Hisanori Takahashi and Pedro Feliciano and also talk about a Jose Reyes extension.  Takahashi can declare free agency on October 31st, so there's slightly increased urgency.  We discussed his situation here.
  • COO Jeff Wilpon told reporters Omar Minaya never asked ownership to eat the contracts of Oliver Perez or Luis CastilloWilpon also said he "can't imagine" trading David Wright, but he'd listen if the new GM proposed something.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Hisanori Takahashi

When the Mets signed lefty Hisanori Takahashi in February, his recent stats in Japan described him as a flyball/command pitcher who could fill a swingman role.  The screwballer's Mets deal came with a $1MM guarantee and $2MM in performance bonuses.  The Pirates, Orioles, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants, and Padres also expressed interest in Takahashi.

According to David Waldstein of the New York Times, Takahashi's contract includes a provision allowing him to declare free agency on October 31st, creating "a four-week window in which the Mets have exclusive negotiation rights."  Typically the free agent filing period begins the day after the World Series with an exclusive window for teams for fifteen days.  That'd make the filing date between November 1st and November 5th.  The wrinkle: ESPN's Jayson Stark recently wrote that the annual filing, arbitration, and tender dates will be moved up this year.  Allowing players to file before or during the World Series seems unlikely, however, and Takahashi's unique situation is confusing as well.  We'll seek clarification on both fronts.

GM Omar Minaya told Waldstein he hopes to work out a new contract with Takahashi, although keep in mind that Minaya might not last that long at the team's helm.  Takahashi told ESPN's Adam Rubin he likes New York and plans to finish his career in MLB, but not much is known beyond that.  Let's take a look at Takahashi's free agent case.

The Pros

  • Takahashi is versatile, having ably filled roles in the Mets' rotation and bullpen.  At this point, he's actually their closer.  In 64.6 innings as a starter Takahashi posted a 5.01 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 1.53 HR/9.  Out of the pen he managed a 2.21 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and a 0.34 HR/9.
  • He dominated lefties in 2010, posting a 11.05 K/9 while allowing no home runs in 29.3 frames.  He was respectable against righties too.
  • Takahashi is on the border of Type B and nothing at last check, though given the timeframe the Mets probably can't offer arbitration anyway.  He won't cost a draft pick.

The Cons

  • Takahashi's multiple roles in 2010 could work against him – even if he'd like another crack at starting, teams might be more enticed by his relief success.
  • At 36 years old in April, Takahashi is no spring chicken.  He hasn't pitched 150 innings in a season since 2007.  
  • Among those with 100 innings this year, Takahashi's 45.6% flyball rate is the 13th-highest.  His 8.4% rate of home runs per flyball may not last, resulting in more shots leaving the yard in 2011.

The Verdict

Quality lefties are tough to find no matter what the role.  Takahashi's agent Peter Greenberg figures to start out seeking a two-year deal despite his client's age.  The annual guarantee could be around $2.5MM, plus incentives for starts and games finished.