Takahashi lands Minor League deal

Takahashi lands Minor League deal

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are going to give Ken Takahashi a chance to prove he can pitch in the Majors.

Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi confirmed Monday that Toronto has agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with Takahashi, who will also be provided with an invitation to attend Spring Training with the big league club. The Japanese left-hander has experience as a starter and as a reliever in his career.

"Basically, we've agreed to a deal, but we don't have anything written," Ricciardi said Monday. "So we have the player on a verbal agreement and we should finalize it within the next few days. He's a guy that we think can come in and maybe compete for a starting job or a bullpen job."

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 leading candidates include Casey Janssen, Scott Richmond, Matt Clement, Mike Maroth 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 this past 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.

Toronto has indicated that it plans on increasing its scouting overseas and heading that task will be Rob Ducey, a professional scout for the club who has also been named the coordinator of Pacific Rim scouting.

"We're going to try to get involved with Japan a little bit more this year," Ricciardi said recently. "We're making a conscious effort to put more resources into those areas and try to get our foot in the door."

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