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Sox sign reliever Saito

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  January 10, 2009 12:18 PM

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The Red Sox have signed free-agent reliever Takashi Saito to a one-year contract with a team option for 2010, the Globe's Adam Kilgore learned earlier today. The Sox officially announced the signing in a press release this afternoon.

The deal includes a guarantee between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, according to FOXsports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Saito will have the chance to earn more than $7 million if he reaches all of his incentives. Rosenthal reports that Saito has already passed his physical.

The 39-year-old Saito spent parts of the last three seasons as the Dodgers closer, saving 39 games for Los Angeles in 2007. The righthander missed significant time last season with a sprained ligament in his elbow, and the Dodgers did not offer him a contract for 2009, making him a free agent. With Jonathan Papelbon cemented in the closer's role for the Sox, Saito figures to be a mid-to-late inning reliever in Boston.

The Globe's Nick Cafardo had this bit on Saito in last week's baseball notes:

The Red Sox made an offer to the former Dodgers closer earlier this winter. Saito has battled elbow issues, but the feeling of teams whose doctors have reviewed Saito's medical records is that he might be able to pitch, though not as a closer. While Saito, who will be 39 Feb. 14, won't be in demand, he might warrant a spring training invitation. Saito missed about two months for the Dodgers and was diagnosed with a partially torn tendon in his elbow, but he took an experimental injection instead of opting for Tommy John surgery and was able to make six appearances in September.

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