Takashi Saito Rumors
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.
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....
- Recently non-tendered third baseman Jack Hannahan has a big league offer from an AL Central team, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It could be the Twins, who met with his rep yesterday according to Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500.
- The Mariners contacted Raul Ibanez's agent, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
- Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima seeks a three-year deal, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, but teams are hesitant.
- Takashi Saito, who turns 43 in February, would like to pitch another year in the U.S., tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown.
- The Mets have considered the idea of signing Mark Reynolds to play in the outfield, but his price tag may be too high for their liking, tweets Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
- Davidoff also tweets that the Yankees have met with Eric Chavez's agent at the Winter Meetings and expressed an interest in bringing back Chavez.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Brewers have "definite interest" in Jason Grilli, but only at a reasonable price (Twitter link). Milwaukee continues to seek both starters and relievers, but doesn't have the money to make a play for someone like Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse, says Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Jeremy Bonderman, who is attempting a comeback, could have a deal in place by the weekend, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday night updates out of the NL Central, as MLBTR's 24-hour coverage of the Winter Meetings continues....
- Rival executives view Rockies assistant GM Bill Geivett as the favorite for the Astros' GM job, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
- Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner hears (Twitter link) that the Astros may select a reliever with the first pick of Thursday's Rule 5 draft.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty talked about the team's search for pitching, and MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has the quotes. Jocketty also said Edgar Renteria's reps had contacted him, but the Reds probably aren't interested in signing him.
- All signs are pointing to the Brewers bringing back Takashi Saito on a one-year deal, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Erik Bedard is drawing interest from the Pirates, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.