D-backs agree to terms with Saito

PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with All-Star right-handed pitcher Takashi Saito on a one-year contract, according to D-backs' Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers.

"Takashi brings a great veteran presence to our bullpen and strengthens an area where we already feel very good about our options," said Towers. "He has closed, been a set-up man and is versatile enough to fill any role."

Saito, 41, went 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA (6 ER in 26.2 IP) and a .216 opponents average with 9 walks and 23 strikeouts in 30 relief appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers last season. He was 1-0 with 7.0 scoreless innings in 6 Postseason appearances. Among National League relievers (min. 30 games), he ranked 10th with a 2.03 ERA.

Over parts of six Major League seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and Brewers, he is 21-15 with 84 saves, a 2.18 ERA (79 ER in 326.0 IP) and a .199 opponents average with 103 walks and 389 strikeouts in 322 games. In 10 career Postseason appearances, he is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA (2 ER in 10.2 IP) and a .237 opponents average with 9 strikeouts.

Saito, who was selected to the NL All-Star Team in 2007, ranks fifth among all relievers since 2006 with a 2.18 ERA behind only Mike Adams (1.80), Mariano Rivera (1.98), Billy Wagner (2.11) and Joe Nathan (2.16). During that span, he also ranks eighth with a .296 opponents slugging percentage, 11th with 389 strikeouts, tied for 11th with a 1.03 WHIP, 12th with a .269 opponents on-base percentage and tied for 14th with a .199 opponents average.

In 2006, Saito set a Dodger franchise rookie record with 24 saves and went on to convert 47 of his first 50 big league save opportunities, the best save percentage of any pitcher in Major League history after 50 chances. He finished eighth in NL Cy Young Award voting that season.

Saito, a native of Japan, played 14 seasons for Yokohama BayStars in the Japanese Central League and was a four-time All-Star (1994, 1996, 1999 and 2001). His 2.18 career ERA is the best among all Japanese Major League players while his 84 career saves rank second to Kazuhiro Sasaki (129). The only Japan-born pitchers to appear in more games than Saito (322) are Shigetoshi Hasegawa (517) and Hideo Nomo (323).

He will become the first player of Japanese-descent to play for the D-backs and will join Stephen Randolph as the only D-backs born in Japan. Sixteen different countries have produced a D-backs' player to date: United States (231), Dominican Republic (34), Venezuela (14), Puerto Rico (10), Mexico (8), Cuba (6), Japan (2), Australia (1), Canada (1), Jamaica (1), Netherlands Antilles (1), Nicaragua (1), Philippines (1), South Korea (1), Virgin Islands (1), West Germany (1).