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02/06/09 11:19 AM EST

Takahashi, Jays finalize deal

Veteran Japanese pitcher will compete for spot in Spring Training

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays put the finishing touches on a Minor League contract for Japanese left-hander Ken Takahashi on Friday, adding another arm to the mix for a role within the club's pitching staff.

"He's a guy that we think can come in and maybe compete for a starting job or a bullpen job," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said earlier this week.

It's believed that Takahashi's contract, which includes an invitation to attend Spring Training with the big league club, could be worth as much as $1.5 million if he makes the Opening Day roster and meets certain incentives.

Toronto has two vacancies in its rotation behind ace Roy Halladay, Jesse Litsch and David Purcey. With Takahashi in the fold, the Jays now have at least eight pitchers in the discussion for starting roles. The top candidates include Casey Janssen, Scott Richmond, Matt Clement, Mike Maroth, Brian Burres and left-handed prospect Brett Cecil.

Takahashi, who will turn 40 in April, went 8-5 with a 3.50 ERA in 115 2/3 innings with the Hiroshima Carp last season. After going 3-10 with a 5.53 ERA in 2004, Takahashi spent most of the next two seasons in the bullpen. But while primarily serving as a starter over the past two years, he has combined to go 13-9 with a 3.60 ERA.

Over a 14-year career, all spent with Hiroshima in the Nippon Professional Baseball League, Takahashi has gone 66-87 with a 4.23 ERA over 433 games, including 160 starts.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.