Saito Signs With Sox; Ausmus Sought

Takashi Saito, who recorded 81 saves (8th on the all-time Los Angeles list) over his three years with the Dodgers, signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox. He can earn as much as $7.5 million this season, according to a baseball source.

Saito is guaranteed $1.5 million and will receive a $1-million bonus if he's on the active roster at any time this season. He can earn an additional $5 million in incentives based on time spent on the active roster and games pitched.

The Red Sox Sox are hoping that Saito could be a late-inning complement to closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Boston general manager Theo Epstein confirmed the deal during a conference call with The Associated Press. "He's done an amazing job since coming over from Japan three years ago," Epstein said. "If you look at his performance and how he's gone about it the last three years, he's been just about as good as anyone in baseball."

Saito, who turns 39 on Feb. 14, spent the past three seasons as the Dodgers closer. He 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.

Takashi Saito's agent said it was the Dodgers decision because they did not reach out to him. 

Kim Ng, Dodgers assistant general manager, was surprised when she heard the comment. "That's an interesting comment because we talked on January 6th," Ng said. "Our impression was that we were going to get a chance to make a last offer."

Ng said the Dodgers never got that chance and received a phone call from on Friday night informing them that Saito would sign elsewhere. Saito's agent later acknowledged that the Dodgers requested a right of final refusal but said it was never granted.

Saito suffered a sprained elbow during a July 12 appearance, ending a string of 15 saves in 16 opportunities. He finished the 2008 season by saving 18 of 21 and running his MLB career record of 81 of 91 opportunities, a .890 percentage, the fifth highest in baseball since the save became an official statistic in 1969.

The Dodgers were offering Saito a one-year deal with a $2-million base salary and $200,000 in incentives in the days leading up to the Dec. 12 deadline to tender contracts to players under club control, according to sources.

Dodgers Interested in Ausmus?
  Free agent catcher Brad Ausmus, who lives in San Diego, has had ongoing talks with the Padres and Dodgers, the Boston Glove reported.

A 16-year veteran, Ausmus has spent the last eight seasons in Houston and parts of 10 seasons in all. Ausmus, who has also played with San Diego and Detroit, has a career .251 average, and hasn't hit above .258 since 2000 but is a fine catcher and has nailed 474 runners in 1,347 attempts for a .354 average.