Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles passes along word that the Dodgers are in Japan scouting Tsuyoshi Wada.
For Wada’s part, he had this to say about his free agency:
Tsuyoshi reached the service time requirements for free agency on September 16 and is widely expected to make a run at an MLB contract this offseason. Said Wada: “I’m honestly happy [about reaching free agency]. I haven’t had a chance to think about it yet. [The team and] I haven’t had a detailed discussion yet, but I’ve been told I’m needed.”
First glance? I’m skeptical at best. As with every other pitcher who hones his craft in Asia, there are significant professional, cultural, and language barriers to conquer, barriers that should never be understated. Plus, NPB players specifically are usually into their 30s by the time they reach free agency, generally past their prime, and Wada will be 31 in 2012.
Fans should remember that this is not Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda is of average height and solidly built, but Wada is short in stature and of slight build. Additionally, Wada is a lefty with a poor fastball (topped out at 90 MPH this year) and three off-speed offerings: slider, forkball, changeup.
Statistically, he had a great year in 2011, posting a 1.63 ERA, but I’m far more interested in his stuff and makeup (as far as the transition) than I am in his raw numbers if the Dodgers are going to invest a significant contract.
Check out video of him at the top of his game here: