Red Sox Making Progress On Deal With Hirokazu Sawamura (www.baseball-reference.com)

The Red Sox are making progress on a deal with reliever 

, reports Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com (Twitter link). If finalized, it’s expected to be a major league contract, per Cotillo. Sawamura is an unrestricted free agent, so the Sox would not owe any compensation to his previous Nippon Professional Baseball team, the Chiba Lotte Marines.

The 32-year-old (33 in April) has pitched to a 2.77 ERA with decent strikeout (22.0%) and walk (7.3%) rates in nine seasons at Japan’s highest level. Sawamura had a difficult start to the 2020 season with the Yomiuri Giants, pitching to a 6.08 ERA while striking out eleven and issuing eight walks in 13.2 innings. After the Giants traded him to the Marines midseason, though, Sawamura turned his fortunes around. Over 21 innings for the Marines down the stretch, the right-hander worked to a 1.71 ERA with a much better 29:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Last year’s early struggles were surely a red flag for some big league teams, but Sawamura’s post-trade rebound, his track record, and MLB-caliber arsenal have all seemingly worked in his favor as he’s talked with MLB teams this winter. Sawamura has a fastball that can reach 97 mph, a low-90s splitter that functions as his primary out pitch, and a slider.



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