Arizona Diamondbacks sign closer Yoshihisa Hirano
The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed right-handed pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano out of Japan, the team announced Friday.
The 33-year-old has spent the last 11 seasons pitching in Japan for the Orix Buffaloes of the Japan Pacific League.
“I am honored to be signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks. They have welcomed me and my family with open arms and made us feel at home already, which is the reason I chose to sign here,” Hirano via a team press release. “My family is looking forward to starting our new life together in Arizona. I believe the D-backs are a team that can win a championship, and I hope I can help them achieve that goal.”
After beginning as a starting pitcher, Hirano transitioned into becoming a reliever.
He has 156 career saves for the Buffaloes, with 143 of those coming in the last five seasons.
Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen made the official announcement of Hirano’s two-year contract on Friday afternoon.
“It was somewhat of a goal of ours to build out the backside of our bullpen. We feel like he fits nicely with the others we have acquired,” said Hazen. “He has the experience of pitching in the back end for a long time in Japan.”
Hirano is expected to have an opportunity to earn the closer role along with newly acquired Brad Boxberger and veteran Archie Bradley.
“I don’t know that we will walk into spring training with a declared closer,” said Hazen. “We will probably save that for walking out of spring training.”
“We have the opportunity to take a look at what roles may best fit everybody. There’s typically an opportunity for more than one pitcher to get saves during the course of the season so we want to continue to have as many options as possible,” Hazen said.
According to the Japan Times, Hirano was looking to move to the majors after the final year of his three-year contract with Orix this past season.
He primarily throws a fastball and a forkball.
With Fernando Rodney headed to Minnesota, Arizona has an opening at closer.
In a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Henry Owens was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers.