Rakuten To Sign Saito
After signing Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee, the word was the that Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles were looking to add a third Major Leaguer. According to multiple reports, that expectation has been nearly fulfilled, as Rakuten has agreed to a one-year contract with Takashi Saito, pending a physical. An official announcement is expected as soon as the 29th (JST). According to Sponichi, the deal is worth JPY 30m (US $350k), but will be worth over JPY 100m (US $1.5m) if Saito reaches all his incentive bonuses.
“We want him to perform well and become a symbol of Tohoku’s recovery, and we expect him to pass his Major League experience on to our young players,” commented Rakuten team president Yozo Tachibana.
Sponichi quotes an associate of Saito’s calling this move “the culmination of his baseball life”. It’s certainly move that carries a more symbolism than most free agent signings, as Saito’s home town is Sendai, where Rakuten plays it’s home games. He returns to Japan after a phenomenal seven-year run as an MLB reliever.