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Saito, BoSox agree to 1-year deal

BOSTON -- Takashi Saito agreed to a one-year deal with Boston on Saturday, giving the Red Sox another veteran arm in their bullpen.

Saito, who had 18 saves and a 2.49 ERA last season despite being limited by an elbow injury, became a free agent when the Los Angeles Dodgers failed to offer him a contract by the Dec. 12 deadline. The right-hander would have been eligible for salary arbitration and a raise from $2 million if he was tendered a contract.

The active Red Sox announced a deal with Rocco Baldelli on Thursday night, finalized a $5 million, one-year deal with right-hander Brad Penny on Friday and are expected to complete a $5.5 million, one-year contract with John Smoltz in the next few days.

The 38-year-old Saito is 12-7 with 81 saves and a 1.95 ERA in three major league seasons, all with Los Angeles.

"He's done an amazing job since coming over from Japan three years ago," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said during a conference call. "If you look at his performance and how he's gone about it the last three years, he's been just about as good as anyone in baseball."

Saito made the All-Star team in 2007 when he went 2-1 with 39 saves and a 1.40 ERA in 63 games. He should feel right at home in spring training with three other Japanese countrymen in Boston's camp: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima and Junichi Tazawa.

"I'm very excited; obviously there is excitement playing for a new team," Saito said. "I know that obviously Daisuke and Okajima are there right now and I've met them several times in the past. I also understand that there is a lot of Japanese staff working with the team. Atmosphere-wise, it's going to be a very nice fit for myself. I'm just very, very excited to be a Red Sox right now."