Takashi Saito Rumors

Odds & Ends: Ruiz, Braves, Offenses, Yankees

Links for Thursday…

Brian Bruney Braves Rumor

George A. King III of the New York Post talked to an official from a team interested in Yankees reliever Brian Bruney, and was told, "We asked about him but hear he is going to the Braves."  The Braves would seem an odd match for Bruney, who is arbitration-eligible and due a raise on last year's $1.25MM salary.  The Braves already signed Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito and might be saddled with Rafael Soriano if he accepts arbitration.  Honestly, I'm not buying this rumor.

Braves Sign Takashi Saito

3:57pm: Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has the contract details. Saito will earn a $3.2MM base salary with another $2.3MM in incentives. Interestingly, all but $500K of the incentives are based on games finished, which should be Wagner's department.

2:20pm: MLB.com's Mark Bowman says the deal will be announced during a 4:30pm ET press conference at turner Field.

1:16pm: Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports that free agent reliever Takashi Saito is close to signing a one year deal worth $3MM with the Braves.

Saito, 40 in February, had a 2.43 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 55.2 innings with the Red Sox last season. He has a 2.05 ERA with a 10.9 K/9 in his four years in MLB. Atlanta was rumored to be looking for a setup man to complement new closer Billy Wagner, especially with Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez likely headed for greener pastures.

Braves Eyeing Setup Candidates

Now that the Braves officially have closer Billy Wagner in tow, they're considering some free agent candidates to fill the role of setup man.  Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution named Octavio Dotel and Fernando Rodney as candidates earlier today.  MLB.com's Mark Bowman went further, saying the Braves are pursuing Dotel, Rodney, and Takashi Saito.  While it seems unlikely, the Braves might want to make sure Rafael Soriano and/or Mike Gonzalez do not accept their arbitration offers before making offers to other free agents.

Bowman also notes that the Braves maintain interest in first baseman Adam LaRoche despite not offering arbitration to the Type B free agent.  The Braves appear unwilling to offer a multiyear deal.

Eight Teams Interested In Takashi Saito

The White Sox, Cubs, Braves, and Mets make up half of the eight teams interested in signing right-hander Takashi Saito, according to Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker.

Saito posted a 2.43 ERA in 55.2 IP for the Red Sox last year, in what was maybe his least effective MLB campaign. In 245.1 innings over four seasons in Los Angeles and Boston, Saito's ERA is a minuscule 2.01. Although he turns 40 before Opening Day 2010, Saito's track record should earn him an eighth-inning job, and perhaps even a chance to close.

The last rumor we heard on Saito was that the Red Sox weren't picking up the reliever's $6MM 2010 option, but were still open to bringing him back to Boston. So we can probably add the Sox to the list of teams interested in the veteran righty. Any speculation on who the others might be? Tigers? Phillies? Astros?

Odds & Ends: Saito, Jaramillo, Marlins

More Monday linkage…

  • Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post says the Rockies want catcher Yorvit Torrealba back, but not at his $4MM option price.
  • WEEI's Alex Speier explains that outrighting Takashi Saito makes a Boston re-signing more feasible.
  • Rudy Jaramillo will likely reach an agreement soon with the Cubs for their hitting coach position, according to SI's Jon Heyman.  Heyman says Jaramillo will be near the top of the coach pay scale, at $800K a year for multiple years.  The Cubs are hoping Jaramillo can help Alfonso Soriano. Milton Bradley hit well in Texas, though he's a trade candidate.
  • MLB.com's Joe Frisaro talked to first baseman Nick Johnson, who is approaching free agency for the first time in his career.  Johnson seems unlikely to stay with the Marlins.  (Check out our discussion post on him here).  Frisaro says the Fish could further shake up the infield corners by trading Jorge Cantu.
  • Newsday's David Lennon reminds us the Mets chose Oliver Perez over Randy Wolf last winter.  Wolf supplied 214.3 innings of 3.23 ball for the Dodgers for $8MM.
  • MLB.com's Jordan Bastian talked to Blue Jays defensive whiz/impending free agent John McDonald about the future and his popularity in Toronto.
  • MLB.com's Bill Chastain feels the Rays will at least talk to free agent reliever Billy Wagner.  Nice fit, though VP Andrew Friedman found it unlikely they'd sign a closer when asked a few weeks ago.  It won't help if Wagner turns down an arbitration offer from the Red Sox, which would attach a draft pick cost.

Red Sox Notes: Bay, Ortiz, Saito

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald covers a handful of Red Sox topics in his latest column. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Silverman expects Jason Bay and the Sox to haggle more about the length of a new contract than the dollar amount. Bay will want to guarantee himself a minimum of four or five years, while the Red Sox would rather stick to three years, plus an option.
  • Matt Holliday is an alternative to Bay, but he'll likely be looking for six years and more money per season than Bay. Plus there's no guarantee Holliday can thrive in Boston, while Bay has proven he can.
  • Even if they were to sign Bay or Holliday, the Red Sox would just be maintaining their offense, not upgrading it. Silverman thinks they need to add a big left-handed bat too, though he implies that may have to wait until David Ortiz's contract is up, a year from now.
  • One lefty hitter that Silverman notes is currently on the trading block: Brad Hawpe.
  • Ortiz is committed to improving his conditioning and fitness this winter, hoping to avoid another slow start in 2010.
  • While the Sox likely won't pick up Takashi Saito's $6MM option, there's "mutual interest" for the reliever to re-sign.

The Red Sox And Takashi Saito

3:23pm: Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears that the Red Sox have not outrighted Saito, though it would not be a surprise to see the club make such a move.

Speier notes that the Red Sox have to release Saito if they don't pick up his option. Since they want the chance to re-sign him this offseason, the Red Sox will likely outright him first if they decide he's not worth $6MM.

2:28pm: The Red Sox have outrighted Takashi Saito, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Now that Saito's off the team's 40-man roster, Cafardo expects the club to turn down its 2010 option for the righty's services. The Red Sox paid Saito $6MM this year and can choose to pay him the same amount next season.

Since Saito has more than three years of service time, he can choose to become a free agent. If he hits the open market, he'll face plenty of competition.

Saito will be 40 next year, but he did strike out 52 batters in 55.2 innings this year. He allowed 50 hits, 25 walks and six homers, so he's easier to hit than he was when he first signed with the Dodgers, but he remains effective.

Discussion: Takashi Saito

Let's talk about Red Sox reliever Takashi Saito, who is a sleeper closer candidate for 2010 after bouncing back well (2.43 ERA, 52 strikeouts, 25 walks in 55.6 innings) from an interesting elbow procedure.  WEEI's Alex Speier has the details - the Red Sox have a $6MM option on Saito for 2010.  If the option is declined as expected, Saito will be an unfettered free agent. Through an interpreter, Saito told Speier he'd like to return to the Red Sox.  Speier speculates that the two sides could negotiate a new deal.

If Saito doesn't re-sign, which clubs might be interested?  Last winter, the Cardinals and Twins were in on him before he signed with Boston.  This year, if Saito wants to return to a closer role, the 39-year-old might find opportunities with the Orioles, Rays, Tigers, Braves, Marlins, and Astros.

Odds And Ends: Sweeney, Padres, Saito

Some links for the morning…