Takashi Saito Joins Diamondbacks
Takashi Saito (Jeff Hanisch/US PRESSWIRE)

Posted Dec 15, 2011


The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with All-Star right-handed pitcher Takashi Saito on a one-year contract worth a reported $1.75 million. The D-backs have fortified their bullpen significantly this winter after already having markedly improved upon the 2010 model.

Takashi Saito, 41, was signed to a one-year, $1.75 million contract. Saito has been bothered by injuries for much of his career, including last season. He made only 30 appearances for Milwaukee in 2011 but had a 2.03 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. Among National League relievers (min. 30 games), his 2.03 ERA ranked 10th.

"He has closed, been a setup man and is versatile enough to fill any role," said D-backs' Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers.

Saito has gone 21-15 with 84 saves, a 2.18 ERA (79 ER in 326.0 IP) and a .199 opponents average with 103 walks and 389 strikeouts in 322 career major league games. In 10 career postseason appearances, he is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA (2 ER in 10.2 IP) and a .237 opponents average with nine strikeouts.

Saito, who was selected to the NL All-Star Team in 2007, ranks fifth among all relievers since 2006 with a 2.18 ERA behind only Mike Adams (1.80), Mariano Rivera (1.98), Billy Wagner (2.11), and Joe Nathan (2.16). During that span, he also ranks eighth with a .296 opponents slugging percentage, 11th with 389 strikeouts, tied for 11th with a 1.03 WHIP, 12th with a .269 opponents on-base percentage and tied for 14th with a .199 opponents average.

In 2006, Saito set a Dodger franchise rookie record with 24 saves and went on to convert 47 of his first 50 big league save opportunities, the best save percentage of any pitcher in major league history after 50 chances. He finished eighth in NL Cy Young Award voting that season.

Saito, a native of Japan, played 14 seasons for Yokohama BayStars in the Japanese Central League and was a four-time All-Star (1994, 1996, 1999 and 2001). His 2.18 career ERA is the best among all Japanese major league players while his 84 career saves rank second to Kazuhiro Sasaki (129). The only Japan-born pitchers to appear in more games than Saito (322) are Shigetoshi Hasegawa (517) and Hideo Nomo (323).  He will become the first player of Japanese-descent to play for the D-backs.

SNAKE BYTES

--INF Cody Ransom is getting another chance with the Diamondbacks, who re-signed the 35-year-old Ransom to a minor league contract. Ransom belted 27 homers and drove in 92 runs in only 372 at-bats at Triple-A Reno before being added to Arizona's expanded September roster. In 33 at-bats with the D-backs, Ransom had just five hits, including one homer. Ransom originally signed with the D-backs last January 19, after spending the 2010 season in the Phillies organization.

--RHP Jonathan Albaladejo signed with the D-backs as a member of their 40-man roster. Albaladejo pitched in Japan last season after appearing in 10 games for the New York Yankees in 2010. The 29-year-old right-hander is 6-3 with a 4.15 ERA in four major league seasons with the Yankees and Washington Nationals.

--RHPs Joe Saunders and Micah Owings were not tendered arbitration offers by this week's deadline, making them free agents.  The team claims that both might still be brought back into the fold, but that appears unlikely with the recent acquisitions of Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow, and Takashi Saito.

--Chief Guyton, a trusted member of general manager Kevin Towers' inner circle in San Diego, was hired as a pro scout. Guyton served as the Padres' farm director.

ARRIVALS: RHP Takashi Saito (free agent from Brewers), RHP Trevor Cahill (trade with A's), LHP Craig Breslow (trade with A's).

DEPARTURES: RHP Jarrod Parker (traded to A's), OF Collin Cowgill (traded to A's), RHP Ryan Cook (traded to A's).

FREE AGENTS: LHP Zack Duke, RHP Jason Marquis, 1B/LF Xavier Nady, LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Micah Owings.

Duke, Nady, and Marquis became free agents after the season.  Saunders and Owings were non-tendered this week.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: C Miguel Montero, 3B Ryan Roberts, RHP Brad Ziegler.

The D-backs are exploring a long-term extension for Montero, who had a career year in 2011 and has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining. "We've done it before," one D-backs official said when asked about the possibility. Roberts was a valuable component after winning the third base job in early 2011. While his salary will jump as a Super-2 player eligible for arbitration, he will be back. Sidearmer Ziegler added another angle to the Arizona bullpen, and he also will return.

DIAMOND STAT: 2.18 -- Career ERA in the majors for Takashi Saito.

QUOTABLE: "Takashi brings a great veteran presence to our bullpen and strengthens an area where we already feel very good about our options." -- D-backs general manager Kevin Towers.


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