We’ve talked about it multiple times, but the Boston Red Sox aggression this off-season is being placed in a handful of lottery tickets. With the signing of Takashi Saito, nothing has changed. Entering the off-season, the Red Sox had three areas of need: catcher, middle relief, and to a far lesser extent shortstop. With Saito, Ramon Ramirez, and whomever the John Smoltz/Brad Penny signings bump out of the rotation, Boston can place a strikethrough on middle relief.
2008 marked Saito’s third season in America and his fewest appearances and innings yet. The causation of Saito’s decline was his right elbow, and during the off-season, Saito underwent a non-surgical procedure to repair the damage. It’s hard to know exactly how effective the method will be, but the Sox are only on the hook for between 1.5 to 2.5 million. Incentives can earn Saito up to 7 million, and there is a club option. All and all, you are talking about an insignificant financial loss if Saito’s arm explodes in the spring.
CHONE has Saito at 47 innings and a 2.82 FIP while Marcels says 55 innings and a 3.15 FIP. If he’s somewhere in between, say 50 innings and a 3 FIP along with a middle reliever’s leverage (around 0.6), Saito will be worth about 0.7 WAR, or 3.6 million in the free agent market. If Saito is more of a set-up man, and has a WAR closer to 1, his value could deter closer to 6 million.
The Sox are obviously high on the win and revenue curves, which makes the one million trade off more than worthwhile. Without knowing the exact plateaus that Saito needs to reach, I’ll assume the Sox are going to get their money’s worth one way or the other. The best is Saito becoming yet another shutdown Boston reliever, the worst? Well, the Sox lose some money.
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