Free Agent Watch: Ken Takahashi
The next guy on the free agent market to watch is Hiroshima Carp veteran lefty Ken Takahashi. Takahashi had been weighing a move to the majors pretty much all season, and has now decided to go for it and file for free agency. Here’s a quote from JapanBall:
”It has been a wish of mine to play in America after qualifying for free agency,” said Takahashi, who went 8-5 with Hiroshima this season.
”American baseball is a different world. I’d like to start off by getting one win over there. I’ll need energy to challenge at my age but it is just a case of believing in myself,” the 39-year-old
said. ”There aren’t that many left-handers over there either and that would be a plus for me.”
Takahashi enjoyed a resurgent season for the surprisingly competitive Carp, going 8-5 with a 3.50 ERA in 115 2/3 innings. The Carp will certainly miss his presence in the rotation, but team ownership has already promised him a home after he comes back.
Takahashi will be 40 next April, so there will be inevitable comparisons to Masumi Kuwata, who joined the Pirates at age 38 after a long career in Japan. The big difference is that Takahashi is coming off a good season, while Kuwata had been washed up for a couple of years when he moved over. I expect Takahashi to get a major league contract.
The Mets have already been mentioned as a potential suitor, which isn’t a surprise given that they need pitching and have signed a number of Japanese players over the years. Surprisingly they like him as a starter. Nikkan Sports reports that the Cubs, Padres, and Giants are interested, and quotes a Cubs scout as saying Takahashi could be used out of the bullpen and as an emergency starter. This makes a lot more sense to me given Takahashi’s age and recent workload.