Angels sign pitcher Hiroyuki Kobayashi to minor league deal

The Angels have reached an agreement with Japanese reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi on a minor league deal that is expected to include an invitation to spring training.

Kobayashi, a 34-year-old right-hander, has a 26-36 career record and 3.65 earned run average in five seasons in Japan, in which he pitched for Chiba Lotte and Hanshin. He went 1-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 42 games for Hanshin in 2011.

Kobayashi, who throws a 90-mph fastball, slider, split-fingered fastball and changeup, explored a move to the major leagues when he became a free agent following the 2010 season.

He was reportedly linked in rumors with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks before deciding to remain in Japan.

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