Hanshin announced on Sunday (11/20) that it has reached an agreement with former Boston Red Sox (AAA) reliever Roman Mendez (26) for the 2017 season. The Dominican righty is expected to compete for the role of closer next year. His fastball reaches 159 km/h (99 mph) and he also throws a slider and a changeup. He is 191 centimeters (6’3″) tall and weighs 107 kg (235 lbs).
In 32 games at the AAA level last season, Mendez went 4-2 with 2 saves, 59 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA in 64 innings. He is currently playing Winter League ball in his home country and through 8 1/3 innings, he has allowed just one earned run (1.08 ERA) and has gotten credit for one win.
A club official is expected to fly down to the Dominican Republic soon and finalize the contract with Mendez. Though he could form a formidable trio of relievers with lefty Suguru Iwazaki and incumbent closer Marcos Mateo, there are some MLB scouts who already express their concern. His walk totals are a little high, and Japanese hitters tend to show more selectivity at the plate, which could result in a lot of unwanted baserunners. (I personally hope Mateo is able to give him some pointers in this area. The mighty righty had control issues early in his first year with the Tigers, but settled in nicely after his reactivation on June 14.)