Takahashi was a Red ... for a couple of days

Former New York Mets left-hander Hisanori Takahashi actually was a Cincinnati Red last week.

The Reds had claimed Takahashi off waivers, giving the club an exclusive negotiating window with the Japanese pitcher. Takahashi had five days to refuse the claim and become a free agent, which he did Friday, according to an official familiar with the transaction.

After 10 years pitching in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, the 35-year-old Takahashi debuted in Major League Baseball last season and filled a variety of roles for the Mets. He went 10-6 with a 3.61 ERA and eight saves in 53 appearances (12 starts).

Under standard MLB rules, Takahashi would have remained under Mets control for five more seasons. However, his original U.S.-based agents, Peter and Ed Greenberg, negotiated a clause in his contract that forced the Mets to release Takahashi after the World Series if the sides could not come to terms on an extension.

Shortly before the deadline, Takahashi switched agents to Arn Tellem.

The Mets, after being unable to come to terms on the extension, placed Takahashi on release waivers on Nov. 5. He was awarded to the Reds on a waiver claim last week, giving Cincinnati a brief period to negotiate a deal.

A Mets source indicated Takahashi was seeking a three-year deal in the $4 million to $5 million range a season. The pitcher openly indicated throughout the season that his preference was to pitch as a starting pitcher.

Still, Takahashi may be more suited as a reliever with fill-in starting ability than a potential full-season rotation contributor. In his 12 starts last season, the first time a batter faced Takahashi in a game, the opponent hit .229. In the second plate appearance, the average rose to .293. In the third plate appearance and beyond, the average was .381.

UPDATE: In response to several inquiries, I checked with the players association. The Mets still are prevented from signing Takahashi to a major league deal before May 15, so his tenure with the club is over.