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Angels sign left-hander Hisanori Takahashi

Versatile veteran gives the team more options in the bullpen.

December 02, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

The Angels on Thursday signed Japanese pitcher Hisanori Takahashi to a two-year contract believed to be worth about $5.5 million, giving the bullpen the veteran left-hander it has sorely lacked since Darren Oliver signed with the Texas Rangers last season.

The team also announced it did not tender a contract to infielder Kevin Frandsen, who will become a free agent. The Angels offered the rest of their arbitration-eligible players — Jered Weaver, Mike Napoli, Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo, Jeff Mathis and Reggie Willits — 2011 contracts.

Takahashi, 35, went 10-6 with a 3.61 earned-run average in a variety of roles for the New York Mets last season, serving as a starter, long reliever, left-handed specialist and closer.

The 5-foot-10, 172-pounder struck out 114 and walked 43 in 122 innings, going 4-4 with a 5.01 ERA as a starter and 6-2 with a 2.04 ERA as a reliever.

Armed with a 91-mph fastball and a variety of breaking pitches, including an excellent curveball and changeup, Takahashi also went eight for eight in save opportunities after closer Francisco Rodriguez was injured late in the season.

The Angels expect Takahashi to stabilize a bullpen that struggled last season without Oliver, who went 15-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 178 games for the Angels from 2007 to 2009.

"Darren left a void, and that void became bigger because some guys didn't perform as we expected," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "You're always looking for balance in the bullpen, and last year, we didn't have it."

Takahashi also gives the Angels' rotation insurance should left-hander Scott Kazmir's struggles continue in 2011.

Kazmir, who has one year and $14.5 million left on his contract, went 9-15 with a 5.94 ERA last season, and the Angels are running out of patience.

Takahashi, Scioscia said, "has the ability to pitch anywhere from sixth inning on, and he gives us starting pitching depth, which is important."

Before pitching with the Mets, Takahashi spent 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, going 79-66 with a 3.70 ERA in 245 games, 202 of them starts.

The Angels have three power right-handers in the bullpen with Fernando Rodney, Kevin Jepsen and rookie Jordan Walden, and General Manager Tony Reagins did not rule out the possibility of adding another.

On the verge of the winter meetings, which start Monday in Orlando, Fla., the Angels are believed to be in pursuit of free-agent closer Rafael Soriano.

"We're going to be looking at opportunities during the winter meetings and beyond," Reagins said. "If an opportunity makes sense to us, we're going to be aggressive in pursuing it."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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