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Saito garners interest from eight teams

Takashi Saito

Boston Red Sox pitcher Takashi Saito, of Japan, delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning of a baseball game Wednesday Sept. 2, 2009 in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


Eight teams, including the White Sox, Cubs, Braves and Mets,have interest in free agent Takashi Saito, according to a Sponichi report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.

Saito, who turns 40 in February, posted a 2.42 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 52/25 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings with the Red Sox in 2009. He signed an incentive-laden contract last January coming back from a torn elbow ligament (without undergoing surgery), but the Red Sox declined his $6 million option by releasing him last month.

While he’s still a fine reliever, capable of eighth or ninth-inning duties, Saito’s peripherals have been headed in the wrong direction since his debut in 2006:

2006: 12.9 K/9, 2.64 BB/9, 0.34 HR/9
2007: 10.91 K/9, 1.82 BB/9, 0.70 HR/9
2008: 11.49 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, 0.19 HR/9
2009: 8.41 K/9, 4.04 BB/9, 0.97 HR/9

There’s no shortage of younger late-inning relievers available this winter, so while the early interest is strong, the veteran right-hander is wading into some uncertain waters.