According to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Takashi Saito is not sure whether he will return next season.
“I don’t have a certain answer yet,” Saito said with a member of the
Japanese media interpreting. “But I don’t have a definite feeling of
‘I’m quitting.’ I’m still thinking….I still believe I can pitch.”
Saito, who turns 41 in February, posted a 2.83 ERA and 69/17 K/BB ratio over 54 innings with the Braves this season. Though he was bothered by tendinitis in his right shoulder in September — and left off the initial NLDS roster — it was a rebound year across the board for him, as he saw improvements in his strikeout rate, walk rate and groundball rate from last season.
Saito earned a $3.2 million base salary this season, with a possible $2.3 million in incentives based on appearances and innings pitched. Like Arthur Rhodes, who I mentioned yesterday, he projects to be a Type A free agent this winter.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.