The Diamondbacks have reached a two-year, $6 million contract with Japanese closer Yoshihisa Hirano, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick was first to report a deal was close.
Though Hirano won’t come stateside with the same fanfare as countryman Shohei Ohtani, he’ll represent a creative option that could prove valuable in the back of Arizona’s bullpen. Hirano, who will turn 34 in March, has been one of Japan’s prominent closers over the last half-decade, owning a 2.62 ERA and saving 143 games over the last five seasons.
Hirano has spent his entire 11-year pro career with the Orix Buffaloes, posting a lifetime 3.10 ERA and 8.2 K/9 in 549 appearances. He was a starter for the first three years of his career from 2006 to 2009 and has pitched exclusively out of relief since 2010.
Hirano drew interest from a few major-league clubs once he made it clear he wanted to pitch in the majors, with the Dodgers, Tigers and Cardinals being among the inquiring clubs. The Diamondbacks, who had interest in re-signing Fernando Rodney before he signed with the Twins last week, have now added three relievers this winter, with Hirano joining trade acquisition Brad Boxberger and Rule 5 pick Albert Suarez as newcomers.
Hirano joins Boxberger and Archie Bradley as the prime back-end options for the D-Backs, with Bradley appearing to be the likely candidate to close at this point.