MILWAUKEE, WI - Takashi Saito #40 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws apitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Six of the National League Championship Series. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Takashi Saito has been really, really good. Has anyone noticed? The Diamondbacks picked the right-handed reliever up as a free agent.
Takashi Saito might be the most underrated pitcher in baseball. He's played six seasons and has a career 2.18 ERA, yet he's only made more than $2 million in a season once. According to Jon Heyman, the Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly agreed to a deal with the 41-year-old right-hander, continuing the bullpen revamping that's been going on in Arizona since the dreadful 2010 season.
If you'll indulge some obvious cherry picking, here's a list of players who have an ERA under 2.20 in 300 or more games:
Not only is that a list of all-time great pitchers and Takashi Saito, but it's also a list that features pitchers who pitched when baseballs were made from balls of studded lead, and when guys like Home Run Baker led the league in home runs with one double. I know it's apples and oranges, and there are eras and specialty roles to consider, but look at the freaking names on that list. If you adjust the parameters to allow the losers with a 2.21 ERA into the group, Mariano Rivera comes straggling in.
Saito recently completed a three-team History of the Braves Tour, moving from Boston to Atlanta to Milwaukee, and while he was effective at all three stops, he appeared in just 30 games last season for the Brewers. For as productive as he's been, he is 41, and he's had problems with his lower torso recently (hamstrings, calves).
Still, would I rather have Saito, $25 million in cash, and the option of throwing an unbelievable $25 million party, or would I rather have one Jonathan Papelbon? Easy choice. Not the same one I would have made, Phillies. No word yet on the money/years, but it's safe to guess that it's probably a one-year deal for not that much.