The closer of the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, Kobayashi saved at least 20 games in each of the last seven seasons, and 227 saves and a 2.79 ERA for his career. He will be put in the back of the bullpen with setup men Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez, giving even more depth to one of the better outfits in baseball. Shapiro was extremely excited: "The signing of Masa Kobayashi marks the first contract ever signed by a Japanese professional baseball player into the Cleveland Indians franchise and, more importantly, accomplishes one of our primary offseason goals of adding depth to the back end of our bullpen. Masa has pitched and succeeded at the highest level and on the biggest stage of the Japanese Professional Baseball League. He should be a valuable addition to our bullpen."
More importantly, he should be able to save some wear and tear on the two Raffy's who seemingly pitched every time the Indians had a lead late in games. Let's hope he is more Hideki Okajima than the failed White Sox closer of a few years ago Takashi Shinjo.