Hanshin officially signed Dominican pitcher Marcos Mateo (31), formerly of the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball, as a candidate to be the team’s new closer next season, to a contract on the 14th. According to a team representative, the main terms of the contract have been agreed upon. It took the team just three days to sign him after they gave up on negotiations with closer Seung-hwan Oh, who found himself mixed up in illegal gambling allegations. For now, the team has avoided heading to camp without a closer in place.
Team management has said about the new import that “an announcement should be made in the very near future.” The team will send a liaison officer overseas in the upcoming days to meet with Mateo face-to-face and sign a contract, at which time an official announcement will be made by the club. Terms and conditions have been negotiated with his agent, and he has agreed to wear the pinstripes next season.
Mateo hails from the Dominican Republic. He is 185 cm tall and 100 kg, a giant of a righty, who boasts a 156 km/h (97 mph) fastball and a sharp slider, seeing 26 games of action in the majors this season going 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA. His career numbers in the majors are 70 games played, 2 wins 4 losses with a 4.65 ERA. He injured his right elbow in the summer of 2011 and underwent Tommy John surgery the following year, but has completely recovered.
He throws in a similar way to former Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo, twisting his large body and throwing “tornado style.” So far in the Dominican Republic winter league he has dominated, postin a 1-0 record with 10 saves and a 0.00 ERA in 15 appearances (as of the 14th). The talk of the baseball world this offseason was the void lack of quality relievers available on the market, and that “the Padres would retain the negotiation rights to Mateo,” but talks (with the Tigers) came together quickly.
Tigers front office was already listing up potential replacements for Seung-hwan Oh, whose contract had expired, in case they lost him to the majors. This was all done with the hopes that the stopper would come back to the club, but when his departure was finalized, the team was lightning-fast in finding a replacement. Apparently the scouts are also undergoing “ultra reform” (超変革).
So the fifth import (after Randy Messenger, Mauro Gomez, Matt Hague and Nelson Perez) is now in place. Granted, the team appears to be searching for one more import, but the cleanup hitter, staff ace and other important positions are starting to be filled, bringing a sense of relief.
A team representative says Mateo is thrilled at the prospect of coming to Japan. At least for now, plans to have Kyuji Fujikawa return to the closer position have been put on hold and he will continue to prepare for next season as a starting pitcher. If Mateo adjusts well to Japanese baseball at spring training and in exhibition games, the basic “winning formula” could see Shinobu Fukuhara pitching the 8th and Mateo taking the 9th.
The new candidate for closer sports a beard and when spinning his giant body, his throwing motion looks extremely powerful. He was popular for his overreactions. His roaring 150+ km/h fastball would look good closing out games for Kanemoto’s club.
Pitcher. Born April 18, 1984 (31 years old). From Dominican Republic. Signed with the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 2004. Moved to the Cubs in 07, and made his major league debut against the SF Giants on August 9, 2010. He was on a minor league contract with the Padres this season, playing in 25 AAA games and recording a 3-0 record with 9 saves and a 1.69 ERA. He got called up to the majors in late June, playing 26 games and going 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA. His career major league numbers are 70 GP, 2W 4L 0S, 4.65 ERA. He is 1.85 m and 100 kg, throwing and hitting right.