Takashi Saito Rumors

Takashi Saito Re-Signs With Rakuten Golden Eagles

He may turn 44 this offseason, but right-hander Takashi Saito isn't hanging it up just yet. Saito has agreed to re-sign with the Rakuten Golden Eagles on a one-year, $600K contract, according to a Nikkan Sports report passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman (on Twitter).

Saito, a client of CAA's Nez Balelo, returned to NPB last season after jumping to Major League Baseball from 2006-12. The former Dodgers closer spent the 2012 campaign with Rakuten, pitching to a 2.36 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 26 2/3 innings and collecting four saves. He earned $350K (plus incentives) on last year's contract, so his strong performance earned him a raise for the 2014 campaign. Within the Nikkan report, Saito is quoted as saying he wants to be prepared to throw more innings in 2014 than he did in 2013.

Saito debuted in NPB as a 22-year-old back in 1992 and spent the bulk of his career in NPB as a member of the Yokohama Bay Stars. In 1,541 1/3 career NPB innings, he has a 3.77 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Saito proved that he had the chops to succeed in MLB as well, compiling a sterling 2.34 ERA 400 strikeouts against just 108 walks in 338 innings for the Dodgers, Red Sox, Braves, D-Backs and Brewers. He has 84 MLB saves under his belt to go along with 52 in Japan (much of his career in NPB was spent as a starting pitcher).

Thanks to MLBTR's Aaron Steen for help on the Japanese translation.

Takashi Saito To Sign With Rakuten Golden Eagles

Veteran right-hander Takashi Saito has agreed to a one-year deal worth $350K (plus incentives) with the Rakuten Golden Eagles according to reports passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. Saito, who is represented by Nez Balelo at CAA Sports, is returning to his hometown of Sendai, where Rakuten plays its home games.

"We want him to perform well and become a symbol of Tohoku’s recovery, and we expect him to pass his Major League experience on to our young players," said Rakuten team president Yozo Tachibana according to Newman.

Saito, 42, allowed 14 runs in 12 innings with the Diamondbacks last season while battling calf and hamstring issues. Although he came over to MLB with little fanfare seven years ago, Saito almost immediately became a dominant reliever. In 338 MLB innings, he owns a 2.34 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Braves, Brewers, and D'Backs.

Rakuten has already signed both Casey McGehee and Andruw Jones this offseason. Saito spent 13 years with the Yokohama BayStars earlier in his career.

Free Agent Rumors: Hannahan, Ibanez, Saito, Nakajima

We rounded up one set of free agent rumors earlier in the day, but as we approach late afternoon in Nashville, it's about time for a fresh batch….

Diamondbacks Designate Takashi Saito For Assignment

The Diamondbacks have designated Takashi Saito for assignment following yesterday's three-team deal, according to their official transactions page.  Saito was already set to hit the open market this winter, so the move essentially just removes him from the 40-man roster in advance.

The D'Backs signed Saito to a one-year, $1.75MM deal last December after the veteran drew interest from at least five other teams.  The right-hander was sidelined for most of the season with a calf injury after a hamstring strain kept him out of action for the bulk of 2011.  Across the last two seasons, Saito has pitched just 38 and 2/3 innings.

NL West Notes: Ethier, Giants, Suppan, Saito

Jim Tracy's indefinite contract extension with the Rockies is the big headline out of the NL West today, but let's see what else is happening around the division.

  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he would like to sign Andre Ethier to an extension and said he's had a few conversation with the outfielder about the topic, including a visit to Ethier's home over the offseason.  Colletti's remarks came during an interview with FOX Sports West during a Los Angeles Kings hockey game (video embedded by Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times).
  • With Ryan Vogelsong battling a back injury, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com speculates that the Giants could be "scanning the free-agent ranks to find a last-minute arm or two."  In the meantime, Eric Surkamp and new acquisitions Brian Burres and Ramon Ortiz are being stretched out.
  • Jeff Suppan talks to MLB.com's Corey Brock about why the 37-year-old veteran is still trying to get back to the Major Leagues as a Padres non-roster invitee.
  • The Diamondbacks didn't have Takashi Saito take a physical before signing the reliever since the team thought he would fail it, GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic).  "Mark Weidemaier, our advanced scout, was with him in L.A. and I think that they said four or five years ago that one pitch and his arm could go," Towers said.  “We thought that the skill-set and what he could bring to the club far outweighed the risk.”  Manager Kirk Gibson said Saito is being on a separate Spring Training schedule in order to help keep him healthy.
  • Gibson said he hasn't spoken to Gerardo Parra about the Diamondbacks' signing of Jason Kubel earlier this winter as the team's new everyday left fielder.  Piecoro thinks Parra "has a right to be unhappy" about losing his starting job despite winning a Gold Glove and a solid year at the plate in 2011, but as I wrote last month, Parra is still a key part of Arizona's future plans.

D’Backs To Sign Takashi Saito

The Diamondbacks announced that they have agreed to sign right-handed reliever Takashi Saito to a one-year deal.  The contract is for $1.75MM, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who first reported the agreement (on Twitter).  The D'Backs were known to be targeting the CAA client, who drew interest from at least six teams this offseason.

Saito, who turns 42 in February, posted a 2.03 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 45.9% ground ball rate for the Brewers in 2011. However, a left hamstring strain limited him to just 26 2/3 innings of work. In six MLB seasons with the Brewers, Braves, Red Sox and Dodgers he has a 2.18 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.

Saito joins David Hernandez, J.J. Putz, Joe Paterson, Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow and others in Arizona's projected 2012 bullpen. D'Backs GM Kevin Towers successfully turned a dismal 'pen around last offseason, when he acquired the likes of Hernandez, Putz and Paterson.

Though Saito was a Type A free agent this offseason, the Brewers were contractually prohibited from offering arbitration. They won't obtain a draft pick for losing the right-hander and the D'Backs won't have to surrender one. 

Brewers Notes: K-Rod, Shortstop, Saito

The Brewers are on the hook for a likely salary in excess of $11.5MM for reliever Francisco Rodriguez next year, after K-Rod accepted their arbitration offer.  The latest on the team after GM Doug Melvin met with reporters:

  • Melvin said he doesn't have to trade Rodriguez to clear payroll space, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  The Brewers feel good about the back end of the bullpen now, and Melvin noted that Rodriguez's added cost should be considered less the $3MM he would have had to spend to sign two compensatory draft picks.  That estimate doesn't hold water if you assume the Brewers would have received, say, the Padres' second-round pick plus a supplemental choice.  Slot for two picks of that nature would probably total $1.25MM.
  • Asked about Aramis Ramirez, Melvin said, "Anybody that's still a free agent is a possibility."
  • Melvin hopes to zero in on a shortstop early next week.  Yuniesky Betancourt, Alex Gonzalez, and Rafael Furcal are the candidates, writes MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
  • Melvin gave some parameters to Takashi Saito's agent Nez Balelo, which didn't change post K-Rod.  It's not an official offer, but Melvin expects Balelo to try to get more from another team.  Six to eight teams have shown interest in Saito, Balelo told WEEI's Alex Speier yesterday.

What K-Rod’s Decision Means For Brewers

Earlier tonight, Francisco Rodriguez accepted arbitration from the Brewers, making him one of three free agents to do so (David Ortiz and Kelly Johnson being the others). Rodriguez now stands to earn approximately $13MM via salary arbitration, a decision which isn't without impact on the dealings of his team.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes that GM Doug Melvin says the club did not make a miscalculation in offering Rodriguez arbitration. According to Melvin, he and owner Mark Attanasio were prepared for the possibility that he would accept the offer and considered it a "no-lose situation."

Melvin confirmed that the Brewers had a potential deal with LaTroy Hawkins agreed upon, but that Hawkins signed with the Angels for one year and $3MM rather than waiting for Rodriguez's decision, a move which Melvin "didn't blame him" for. According to Melvin, his offer to Hawkins was worth less than the $3MM that Hawkins signed for.

Beyond that, Melvin added that the Brewers are likely withdrawing their pursuit of Takashi Saito "for now," and that it's "possible" that this will have an impact on the club's ability to pursue Aramis Ramirez, for whom they were a reported favorite.

Haudricourt also points out (via Twitter) the irony of the fact that the decision of Rodriguez, a Scott Boras client, essentially further guarantees that the club cannot afford a reunion with Prince Fielder.

Free Agent Notes: Saito, Ayoki, Guerrero, Kazmir

Here are Wednesday's updates on a few players on the free agent market:

  • Takashi Saito's agent, Nez Balelo, says six to eight teams have shown interest in his client, who is open to playing in either league, tweets WEEI's Alex Speirer.
  • Balelo also tells Speier that Japanese outfielder and six-time NPB All-Star Norichika Aoki will be posted next Monday (Twitter link).
  • With milestones in reach, Vladimir Guerrero intends to keep playing, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (on Twitter).
  • Scott Kazmir will make his Dominican Winter League debut with the Escogido Lions tonight, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.

Brewers Intensify Pursuit Of LaTroy Hawkins

The Brewers intensified their pursuit of free agent reliever LaTroy Hawkins yesterday, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.  Discussions with his agents are expected to continue today.  Since Hawkins lives in Dallas, he attended the first two days of the Meetings.

The Brewers have maintained contact with Takashi Saito's agent Nez Balelo, adds McCalvy.  ESPN's Jim Bowden expects a one-year deal.