The Cubs continue to add depth to their bullpen with the addition of Hisanori Takahashi on a minor league deal which includes an invite to spring training in 2013.
Takakashi spent the majority of his 2012 season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim but had also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for a brief period. The 37 year old Japanese lefty reliever had been effective in two previous seasons in the MLB and had also been effective in Japan. Despite his many years of quality pitching, he sputtered last season posting a 5.54 ERA.
July 19, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Hisanori Takahashi (21) pitches during the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Detroit won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
While his ERA indicates struggling, the other metrics associated with his performance actually show his potential. He posted a very healthy 9.30 K/9 complimented with a 2.5 BB/9 in 50.1 total innings. His FIP (fielding independent pitching) shows promise at 3.93 and is projected to post an ERA under 3.40 for next season. Clearly Takahashi knows how to pitch.
Picking up a slumping lefty arm on a minor league deal is a steal in retrospect to the price of pitching this off season. This is another one of those potential high return moves for little to no risk what so ever and Takahashi has a very real chance of cracking the Cubs’ bullpen. Even if his performance is below what is required to be effective at the major league level, Takahashi will still add great depth and experience to the AAA Iowa Cubs.
While this is far from a blockbuster, it’s one of those deals that championship teams generate. Value continues to be the theme for this offseason and the Cubs’ are playing all the right cards.