Tomo Ohka Rumors
UPDATE: The Blue Jays signed Ohka to a one-year deal with incentives. He's guaranteed $1.5MM and can double it by reaching incentives.
The Washington Post reports that Tomo Ohka will likely decide on a team today or tomorrow. The Nats are unlikely, and he's leaning towards Toronto. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Ohka now only wants a one-year deal. Looks like he couldn't get three years so he'd rather re-enter the market in '08 after a hopefully solid year. The Pirates are definitely out of the running. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review mentions that the Mets are still in on Ohka.
The Bucs, however, have turned their focus to Tony Armas Jr. Several teams are interested in him, with the Pirates in the lead. Though he's not particularly good, he is relatively healthy and on the right side of 30. Beggars can't be choosy.
Ah, the Tomo Ohka saga. What could be more exciting in late January? Football just can't compete. The Pirates have "escalated efforts" to snag the righthander, which I suppose means an increased offer. An Ohka signing for the Bucs would probably push Shawn Chacon out of the rotation, never a bad idea.
The Nats, Blue Jays, and...wait for it...a mystery team are the contenders for Ohka. My guess is that Ohka wants a Jason Marquis type deal.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports that Tomo Ohka could decide this weekend whether to pitch for the Nationals, Pirates, or Blue Jays. The Bucs are also working on Brian Lawrence, so they'd probably only sign one of the two.
I wonder what happened to the Mets, and whether Ohka is still holding out for a three-year deal. You can read my full profile of the 30 year-old righty here.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "The Pirates are among the two or three teams that have offered a two-year deal to free-agent pitcher Tomo Ohka. However, Ohka's agent is holding out for a three-year deal."
Three years for Ohka sounds like a bad idea. But hey, can't blame a guy for trying. As far as the two or three teams, it seems possible that they might be the Mets, Nationals, and Mariners.
According to the New York Times, the Mets are interested in Tomo Ohka or Tony Armas Jr. to fill in the middle of their rotation. Both pitchers played under Minaya when he was GM of the Expos. Ohka would likely require a two-year deal, while Armas might be had for one year and $5MM or so.
Meanwhile, the New York Post adds that the Mets could give Jeff Weaver a second chance in New York. They'd be unlikely to exceed a two-year deal, and I have a hunch someone could offer three. Once again, Scott Boras and Weaver are signing a contract late in the free agent season.
According to Ken Davidoff of Newsday, the Mets are likely negotiating with free agent righty Tomo Ohka. Omar Minaya is familiar with Ohka from his time in Montreal.
Three teams have looked at Ohka's medical records, and one NL East team besides the Mets is in the mix. The Marlins and Phillies don't make sense, leaving the Braves or Nats as possibilities. Washington made Ohka an offer a month ago but it wasn't enough.
UPDATE: The Washington Post confirms that the Nationals are still in the mix.
Click here to view my full profile on Ohka.
According to the Seattle Times, Mariners GM Bill Bavasi has been looking at John Thomson or Tomo Ohka as possible additions.
A month ago, the Mariners requested the medical files on Thomson and seemed close to signing him. The 33 year-old had a rough year health-wise in 2006, so those files were probably pretty thick.
Haven't heard much on Ohka in the past few weeks, though the Cards, Nats, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mariners have expressed interest in the past. Maybe he's waiting for Mulder to sign first. Here's my Ohka profile if you're interested.
According to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are talking to free agent hurler Tomo Ohka.
Ohka is slowly but surely being elevated to God-like status as the market thins. The Jason Marquis contract really inflated the lower end of the pitching market.
You can read my full profile of Ohka here.
Ohka made $4.53MM this year. He turns 31 in March and is seeking a three-year commitment. RotoWorld names the Nationals, Mariners, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Pirates as interested parties. I've also heard the Cardinals mentioned; they seem to succeed with this type of pitcher.
Ohka is a guy who pitches to contact and typically shows good command. He's a flyball pitcher who mostly throws fastballs and sliders.
Some past history on Tomokazu Ohka (source: RotoWire):
The Red Sox purchased the 22 year-old's contract from the Yokohama Baystars of Japan's Central League. He'd worked mostly in relief in Japan.
He excelled at Double A and Triple A, going 15-0 across the two levels for the year. A 5.7 K/BB ratio in Triple A inspired the Sox to call him up in July to face the Marlins. He pitched poorly in two starts and later six relief appearances. He earned the team's Minor League Pitcher of the Year honor.
Ohka didn't break camp with the Red Sox; he began the year at Pawtucket. In June, he tossed a perfect game for the Triple A club. A few weeks later, he earned a suspension for an off-field fight with South Korean Sun-Woo Kim. Kim's still around, so perhaps they'll clash again.
Trade rumors swirled about, but Ohka stayed put and eventually made 12 starts for the Sox with a 3.12 ERA.
He broke camp with the Sox, but was sent back down in May when David Cone temporarily healed. Ohka bounced back and forth, filling in for Cone, Pedro Martinez, Frank Castillo, and Bret Saberhagen. Ohka pitched poorly. At the trading deadline, he was sent to the Expos for Ugueth Urbina. He posted a 4.77 ERA in 10 starts for Montreal.
This was Ohka's breakout season, as he won 13 games with a 3.18 ERA in 31 starts. It was a strong Montreal staff, with Javier Vazquez, Bartolo Colon, Carl Pavano, Tony Armas, and Masato Yoshii contributing. One note is that Ohka received a six-game suspension for throwing at Andruw Jones after Jones hit two home runs off him. In November, Ohka pitched for an MLB All-Star team that played in Japan.
An uneventful but healthy season, as Ohka won ten games with a 4.16 ERA in 34 starts. Well, there was one event.
He began the season as the #3 guy behind Livan Hernandez and Zach Day. In June, a Carlos Beltran liner broke his right forearm; Will Carroll described it as a "particularly nasty fracture." He was activated from the DL in September. On the season, he posted a fine 3.40 ERA despite his weakest strikeout rate and a lot of baserunners.
With a metal plate and screws in his forearm, Ohka was not the same pitcher in April. His velocity was down and he allowed more flyballs. Frank Robinson moved him to the bullpen in May but he found his way back once John Patterson got hurt.
In June came Ohka's famous diss of Robinson - he turned his back on his manager when he came out to make a pitching change. Robinson had to grab the ball out of his hand. The Nats fined him and traded him five days later to the Brewers for Junior Spivey. This despite his 3.33 ERA in nine starts on the season and a year and a half of service time left. Upon joining the Brewers, Ohka posted a 4.35 ERA in 20 starts, including his first shutout.
Shoulder discomfort popped up on May 1st; Ohka was showing reduced velocity from a strained rotator cuff. The partial tear led to a DL stint. He returned from rehab in July; Will Carroll said his velocity looked good. A hamstring injury in September ended his season. The Brewers declined to offer him arbitration, and here we are.