Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Orioles Sign Tsuyoshi Wada UPDATED

Many sites are reporting that the Orioles have signed Japanese free agent LHP starter Tsuyoshi Wada to a two year contract for somewhere around $8 million. Wada has pitched professionally in the Japanese Pacific League for the past eight seasons for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in 2003-04 and the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks from 2005-2011. He is a control pitcher best known for his amazing 3.2/1 K/BB ratio, but his fastball often tops out between 84-88 mph so I hope that his left-handed craftiness translates against MLB hitters. He earned the nickname "Dr. K" in Japan and it would be great if that remains applicable for his time in America as well.

Tsuyoshi was the Pacific League Rookie of the Year in 2003 and has made the All-Star team either two or three times (I found conflicting reports). Here is a You Tube video I found of Wada pitching. He seems to have a pretty smooth delivery and appears to somewhat hide the ball until late in his release. A few sites have compared him to Dallas Braden, and I'll be happy with that as long as the perfect game and hatred of the Yankees is included in the deal.

UPDATE- It sounds like Wada was actually an All-Star four times (in 2003, '04, '10, & '11), and was the MVP of the league in 2010. He also pitched in the Olympics in 2004 & '08 and helped Japan win the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.

$8 million is a huge amount of money to us every-men, but it's not a major financial risk in the world of professional baseball. I think this type of relatively low-risk signing is something that Orioles fans are used to by now. I just hope that Wada can hang as a viable pitcher in the A.L. East. It's always difficult to predict how a player will adjust to batters half a world away from who they are used to playing against. 

I've got my eye on some of Wada's cards, that hopefully I can get signed at some point down the road, but for now I don't own anything with his image on it. So I'm showing off my autographs from the Orioles previous Japanese signings. 

First up is the only Japanese player to play for the Orioles thus far in team history, Koji Uehara. He pitched for the O's from 2009 until a 2011 mid season trade sent him to the Rangers for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis. When Koji was able to stay healthy, and once he became a full-time reliever, he was very successful for the O's. I've heard that he would like to return to Baltimore for the 2012 season, but I'm not sure if the Orioles will work out a deal to reacquire him. 

The only other Japanese pitcher to spend time in the Orioles organization is minor leaguer Ryohei Tanaka. He has pitched mostly with the AA Bowie Baysox over the past three seasons but spent a good chunk of 2011 with the hi-A Frederick Keys. He briefly pitched in the Japanese Pacific League back in 2003 but had been pitching in the Japanese minor leagues when the O's signed him prior to the 2009 season. At this point I think it's safe to say that Ryohei probably won't ever pitch in Baltimore, but he's been a good signer during his time in the farm system. 


Paul Hadsall said...

Hopefully Wada works out for the Orioles.

Orioles Magic said...

That would be great, but I guess we won't know until April!