Padres sign Akinori Otsuka

The Padres have signed Japananese relief pitcher Akinori Otsuka to a two-year contract reportedly worth about $1.5 million. <br><br> The Padres paid $300,000 to the Chunichi Dragons for a 30 day window to negotiate with Otsuka.

The Padres have signed one of Japan's best relief pitchers, Akinori Otsuka, to a two-year contract worth about $1.5 million.

Otsuka, who will be 32 on Opening Day, was not a free agent, but he and his team agreed to post his rights, making him available to the major leagues in exchange for cash compensation.

Akinori Otsuka is the first Japanese Leagues player to join the Padres. The right-hander struck out 110 batters while walking just eight over the last two seasons.

Playing for three different Japanese franchises over the past seven seasons, Otsuka compiled a 2.39 ERA with 474 strikeouts in 350-2/3 innings pitched. During that same span he walked 117 batters.

Used primarily as a closer where he saved 137 over his Japanese career, Otsuka will assume a setup role in the Padres bullpen.

Otsuka was 1-3, 2.09 with 17 saves for the Dragons last season, and was 2-1, 1.28 for Kintetsu in 2002. He led the Pacific League in 35 saves in 1998 when he went 3-2, 2.11. The righthander features a low-90s fastball that has been clocked as high as 95 mph and a good slider.

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