The Mets and Hisanori Takahashi have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract, which is likely to be announced later this week, two people familiar with the situation confirmed today. Takahashi, a 34-year-old lefthander, had played his entire career with the Yomiuri Giants - Japan's most popular team -- and went 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA last season.

Takahashi favored the Mets because of the wide-open competition for the fifth starter's job. Heading into spring training, Fernando Nieve has been considered the favorite, followed by Nelson Figueroa and Jon Niese. Takahashi is not a hard thrower, but features a screwball, and his off-speed attack might be a good follow-up to John Maine, if that's who winds up as the No. 4 starter in the rotation.

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The New York Times was first to report that Takahashi was nearing a deal with the Mets.