12/14/11 6:45 PM EST
O's sign Japanese lefty Wada to two-year deal
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
The O's announced Wednesday the signing of Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year, $8.15 million deal, including a $5 million option for 2014. The agreement was first reached on Tuesday and the club will unveil Wada with a news conference at Camden Yards on Thursday afternoon.
The 30-year-old Wada posted a 16-5 record with a 1.53 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2011, and he will be the Orioles' second Japanese-born player, following right-hander Koji Uehara, who was traded to Texas last season after 2 1/2 years in Baltimore.
In his 52 starts over the last two seasons, Wada went 33-13 with a 2.29 ERA and struck out 337 batters while walking 95 and allowing just 18 home runs. Wada appeared in the 2004 and '08 Summer Olympics, and the 2006 World Baseball Classic, which was won by Japan.
While's Wada's exact role has not been determined, he will add depth to an O's pitching staff in dire need of an upgrade. Duquette has made it his top priority this offseason to help bolster a starting staff ranked worst in the Majors in several categories in 2011, and Wade could be just the beginning of an influx of international arms in Baltimore.
Having missed out on South Korean pitcher Chong Tae-Hyon, who elected to sign a four-year deal with the Korea Baseball Organization, the Orioles are believed to have interest in Taiwanese left-hander Chen Wei-Yin.
The 26-year-old Chen pitched for the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Central League in 2011, compiling an 8-10 record and a 2.68 ERA in 24 starts. Given his age and the velocity with which he throws, he figures to have more of a market than Wada and command a higher price tag.
The O's were also on hand to watch Cuban-born outfielder Yoenis Cespedes work out in the Dominican Republic last week.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.