The Mets have come to agreement with Hisanori Takahashi,
late of the Yomiuri Giants, on a minor league deal worth $1 million if he makes the team. Takahashi, who turns 35 in April, was 79-66 with a 3.70 ERA in 245 career games in the NPB. He’s a soft-tossing lefty who most have said would make a better reliever in
the Majors than a starter, but Takahashi has said that he’d like a chance to start.
And New York may provide him with the best chance. Of all of his potential suitors — which have included the Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles and Padres — the Mets may have the biggest holes in the rotation. Well, maybe Baltimore would be better, but I could see him starting for the Mets. And to the extent such things make a difference in anyone’s mind, the Mets have signed more Japanese players than anyone over the past ten years, including Ryota Igarashi, who was Takahashi’s teammate on the Giants, this year.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.