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brewers-sign-saito | December | 2010 Articles

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Brewers Sign Saito

Written by Joe Lucia on .

Takashi Saito is the newest member of the Milwaukee Brewers, at a cost of $3 million for one year. Great for the Brewers: they get a dominant late-game reliever (when healthy) who strikes out more than a batter per inning. But this isn't a Brewers blog. My question here is this: why in the hell did the Braves handle the situation with Saito like they did?

Saito was *awesome* for the Braves in 2010, as I wrote about in my season in review piece about him. He went down during the second to last week of the year with shoulder tendinitis, and pitched one game in the final weekend, getting blasted by Philly. That's the only reason I can think for the Braves to walk away from him: they were afraid his shoulder wouldn't hold up for another season.

The Brewers apparently didn't have that concern. But by that same token, Milwaukee is desperate for a winner, with Prince Fielder's free agency looming and the addition of Zack Greinke this offseason. Saito was a type A free agent, but the Braves didn't offer him arbitration. Why not? Were they afraid he'd accept it and get a raise? The free agent market for relievers is absolutely nuts this season. Saito could have signed wherever he wanted and got decent money. $3 million for a setup guy isn't chump change.

I guess the reason that I'm so irritated is that the Braves had three type A free agents (Saito, Lee, Wagner) and will be walking away with a grand total of ZERO extra draft picks, since none were offered arbitration. The Wagner point is moot, since he is retired (and there was an option on his deal in the first place). I can understand not offering Lee anything, since he made a boatload of money last season and the Braves would have no desire to pay that much money for a player who wouldn't even be starting on the team. But why not offer it to Saito? Was the team that horrified by his medicals that they didn't want damaged goods coming back to the team next year? Were they scared they'd have another Rafael Soriano situation like after 2009, except on a much smaller scale? Regardless of why Saito wasn't offered arbitration, I think it's a bad move. But with how cheap the Braves were in the draft back in June, maybe it's for the best that the team doesn't have another high round pick (that they wouldn't sign).

EDIT: Just got reminded that Saito had a clause in his contract that he couldn't be offered arb. Doh. Kind of a stupid clause to put in a contract, but nevertheless. Thanks to @bennetthipp for the reminder
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