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12/02/10 10:30 PM EST
Angels sign Takahashi to two-year deal
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Angels announced on Thursday night that they have signed left-hander Hisanori Takahashi to a two-year deal in a move that provides protection in both the rotation and bullpen. "Our expectation is that he'll fit in very nicely to what we're trying to accomplish as the first move of the offseason," said Angels general manager Tony Reagins, who figures to be busy next week trying to land a big name or two at the Winter Meetings in Florida. "Hisanori has expressed interest in being part of the Angels' family, and it was something we think is going to benefit everyone involved." Terms were not disclosed. Takahashi made $1 million in 2010 after signing with the Mets as a Minor League free agent and performed exceptionally well in a variety of roles in his first exposure to Major League Baseball. A former teammate of Hideki Matsui with Japan's Yomiuri Giants, with whom he spent 10 seasons, Takahashi turns 36 on April 2. In 53 appearances, 12 as a starter, Takahashi was 10-6 with a 3.61 ERA in 122 innings. At 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, he had 114 strikeouts while walking 43 hitters and surrendering 147 hits. He also could go into the mix in the search for a closer. Takahashi converted all eight of his save opportunities for the Mets when former Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez was injured. "We think he's going to fill a variety of roles we've been looking for in our bullpen," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said during a conference call. "His ability to pitch anywhere from the sixth inning to the end and also give us starting depth is very important. "Adding depth is very important. The fact he has pitched at the back end of games and closed games definitely makes our bullpen stronger. I don't think this is the end of what Tony's going to do, but it does add to the foundation and give us a look we're going to need. We were able to bring in an arm to give us balance and a new dimension to our bullpen." The Angels have a number of candidates to close, from veteran Fernando Rodney to young setup men Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden. They are believed to be in pursuit of Rafael Soriano, the premier closer in free agency. "We're going to be looking at opportunities at the Winter Meetings and beyond," Reagins said. "If it's an opportunity that makes sense for us, we're going to be aggressive and pursue it." On a conference call filled with interference that had reporters straining to hear the words of his interpreter, Takahashi said: "I will train myself as in the past for the best." He added that he was looking forward to pitching for the Angels. Before acquiring Takahashi, the Angels had only one lefty on their projected staff in fifth starter Scott Kazmir. Takahashi provides protection in the event Kazmir continues to struggle while also serving the role that Darren Oliver performed so admirably for three seasons as southpaw balance in a bullpen loaded with power right-handers. During his decade with the Yomiuri Giants, Takahashi was part of three Japanese championship teams. The Tokyo native was 79-66 with 15 saves and a 3.70 ERA in 1,289 innings, striking out 1,032 batters while walking 359. With the Mets, Takahashi was especially effective against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .217 average, compared to .264 by right-handers. Even more impressive, he did not yield a home run to a left-handed hitter in 115 at-bats, limiting them to a .270 collective slugging mark. Right-handed hitters had a .441 slugging mark against him. As a starter for the Mets, he was 4-4 with a 5.01 ERA. But he excelled in pressure circumstances in two outings against the Yankees and one against the Phillies, delivering 18 shutout innings. As a reliever, he was 6-2 with a 2.04 ERA. The Mets, who did not want to go beyond one year, were unable to reach a contract extension with Takahashi by Nov. 5. By terms of his agreement, he would not have been available to New York until May 15.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.