Reports now say the Red Sox have not outrighted Saito, although they may yet still do it. The blog is off to an impressive start spreading misinformation!
According to Nick Cafardo of the Globe the Sox outrighted Takashi Saito this afternoon. Essentially, this means they sent him to AAA and have removed him from the 40 man roster. Because he has 3 years of major league experience Saito can refuse assignment and become a free agent. My initial impression was that it was some roster shenanigans to give the Sox some flexibility with their roster, but then I realized two things:
1. Despite a 2.45 ERA, Saito did not pitch all that well. ERA is a very volatile stat for a relief pitcher and has pretty limited predictive value. Saito's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) , which is based on strikeout, walk, and home run rates, was 4.25, so he was a bit lucky.
2. Saito would make a lot more money next year than I realized. Although his base salary was $1.5 million this year, because he was on the opening day roster his base salary bumped up to $2.5 million. He also received a $1 million bonus for appearing in 55 games and $2.5 million bonus for being on the active roster for 150 days, bringing the grand total to $6 million. His contract calls for the 2010 club option to be whatever his salary was for the previous year. $1.5 million for a middle inning reliever isn't bad, but $6 million is obviously over paying.
Even though he is off the 40 man roster it wouldn't shock me if the Sox and Saito are able to work something much less expensive out, although he may opt for a role where the path to the closer job is much clearer.