It appears that Matt Keough, the A's scout responsible for Asia the last few years, has finally reeled in an Asian player. USS Mariner is reporting that the A's are closing in on signing Keiichi Yabu, a 36-year-old starting pitcher from the Hanshin Tigers of Japan.
Apparently, it's a one-year deal with a team option for 2006. He'll get $750,000, with incentives that could raise it to $1.25 million.
Yabu has a career ERA of 3.57, striking out 5.6 batters/9ip, while walking 2.5. In other words, he's more the crafty right-hander type than an overpowering pitcher.
It looks like a good move. If he pans out, he could let the A's keep Dan Meyer and/or Joe Blanton down in Sacramento for a few months to get some more seasoning, and to push back their arbitration eligibility another year.
It adds to the depth of the starting pitcher corps, too. The A's list of potential starters for 2005 now goes eight deep:
with John Rheinecker, Tim Harikkala, and Juan Cruz also as possibilities, I suppose.
Adding Yabu's $1M salary probably means that someone else's $1M salary is headed elsewhere. Chad Bradford and Eric Byrnes fit that bill most closely. The acquisition of Cruz, Calero and Thomas make that pair more replaceable.
If the A's can finagle Carlos Quentin or Conor Jackson out of the D-Backs, that would be ideal. The Arizona Republic is suggesting an infielder, though, either Matt Kata, Alex Cintron, or Scott Hairston. Hairston is the most attractive of that trio, and the only one I'd give up Byrnes for. But after the acquisition of Keith Ginter, I'm not so sure why the A's would do that.
UPDATE: There are also rumors that the Cubs are chasing Octavio Dotel.