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braves-sign-takashi-saito | December | 2009 Articles

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Braves Sign Takashi Saito

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UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal has the contract details: Saito is guaranteed $3.2 million, and can earn up to $2.3 million more in incentives. Oddly, though, all but $500,000 of those incentives are tied to games finished, and if things go according to plan, it'll be Billy Wagner finishing most of the games. Also of note is that the Braves had 39 of 40 roster spots filled before signing Billy Wagner, so they'll have to remove someone from the 40-man roster in order to make room for Saito.

Well, Frank Wren isn't wasting any time this winter. Billy Wagner signed yesterday, and today his former Red Sox teammate, right-hander Takashi Saito has agreed to join the Braves. The deal is reportedly a one-year pact worth about $3 million, according to CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler.

I'm as excited about this as I was about the Wagner signing. Saito and Wagner give the Braves a lefty/righty tandem at the back of the bullpen that could arguably have even more upside than the Gonzalez/Soriano duo from 2009. Saito's numbers from 2006-2008 are mind-blowing, with a K rate over 11 per nine innings with a low walk rate, and groundball tendencies to boot. Give him another year removed from his UCL injury in 2008, and put him back in the National League, and I like his chances to rebound. Perhaps he won't be the dominant force he was with the Dodgers, but I think he will be better than the 4.25 FIP that he posted last year with the BoSox. Rafael Soriano would likely have cost upwards of $8 million to bring back (and he still could accept arbitration, though Braves brass are close to certain he'll decline), but here Wren has gone and put Wagner and Saito together for just $10 million combined. Oh, and it can't hurt to bring Kenshin Kawakami a Japanese teammate.

I'm very much liking the move as a sign of Frank Wren's aggressiveness as well: he and his staff appear to have decided who they want, and they are going out and getting those guys. That's an encouraging sign, and it goes to show how committed Wren is to building a championship contender in 2010.

Note: Adding Saito to the payroll analysis conducted here, the Braves now have 19 players under contract for 2010, at a total cost of $86.5 million.

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