Fresh off the weekend swap of Jarrod Parker for Trevor Cahill (et al), D-backs GM Kevin Towers made another splash on Monday evening, signing right-handed reliever Takashi Saito. The signing was first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN and CBS's Jon Heyman on Twitter. Anthony Jackson, a beat reporter for the Dodgers, reports that the deal is a one-year contract. More terms of the move have yet to come out, but it seems like another solid acquisition for Towers, finishing off what looks to be a dangerous pitching staff for 2012. [Hat-tip to battlemoses for the original Fanshot]
Update: Terms of the contract are out, and it's a one-year, $1.75MM contract, according to Heyman. Hat-tip to G.O.B. for the link
Saito came to the US from Japan in 2006 as a 36-year-old, where he had three phenomenal years as L.A.'s closer, working in 180 games and throwing 189.2 innings with the Dodgers with a combined 1.95 ERA - good for a fabulous 227 ERA+ - 11.6 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9. Saito missed some time in his final year with the Dodgers, working in just 47 innings with them that year but still managing to post a 2.49 ERA while on the mound.
Over the next few years, either age and injury concerns or simply Saito's preferences would limit him to a series of one-year deals. Saito settled for a one-year deal from the Red Sox the following season - 2009 - Saito's age-39 campaign, and though Saito worked only 55.2 innings over 56 appearances for Boston that year, he still posted a 2.43 ERA and 194 ERA+. The following year, Saito signed another one-year contract with Atlanta, working 54 innings over 56 games with a 2.83 ERA, good for a 139 ERA+. Then, last year, Saito joined Milwaukee on a one-year pact, and while he was as sharp as ever when on the mound, with a 2.03 ERA and 195 ERA+, he had his most injury-riddled year, working just 26.2 innings over 30 appearances.
Still, Saito has yet to have big-league season in which he has posted an ERA over 3 or ERA+ under 139, and sports career average rates of 10.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 0.6 HR/9. He had a down-year in 2011 in terms of peripherals, with just a 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 with Milwaukee, but given the small size of that sample and the 11.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 Saito had in 2010 with the Braves, it's not overly concerning, especially on a one-year contract. As Arizona showed last year with J.J. Putz, GM Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson is willing to treat relievers with kid gloves as far as workloads are concerned so long as they provide elite performance when they take the mound, and Saito offers a good chance of providing just that.
With the signing of Saito and the acquisition of left-hander Craig Breslow in the trade on Saturday, it seems that GM Kevin Towers has finished rounding out the bullpen for 2012. Health permitting for all involved, Putz will return to his closer role, with David Hernandez setting up, Saito working the seventh, Bryan Shaw filling in the seventh when either Putz or Saito need a day off, Joe Paterson working as the primary lefty specialist, Brad Ziegler as a right-handed specialist, and Breslow offering a left-hander capable of going through a full inning.