A look at the Red Sox possibilities for foreign players in Japan

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Texas Rangers in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 25, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Texas Rangers in the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on September 25, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox may explore options outside MLB for supporting players. Could there be any infield/outfield help in Japan?

Foreign intrigue is not a novel or a spy movie but in this instance a look at where either fools gold or a nugget may be lurking. A look at players who have left of their own volition or have been dismissed from the MLB herd and sought refuge and employment elsewhere and this segment is Japan. The Red Sox do have a history of foreign entanglements, but let us pass by Daisuke Matsuzaka and look for more reasonably priced merchandise.

The Red Sox have been to this rodeo before with moderate success and that is Ryan Brasier who they plucked after spending an uneventful 2017 in Hiroshima of the Japanese Pacific Central League. Brasier was a notable success story in 2018 (2-0, 1.60, 33.1 IP) and most notably was paid the MLB minimum. Can they find another?

The Red Sox need pitching and they may need a bat or two depending upon the drama surrounding the hysteria of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez and others who may be traded. Someone goes they must be replaced but I doubt you will find a Betts, Martinez, or Bradley on the list of foreign players in Japan with varying degrees of hitting success and failure.

I will toss out a disclaimer in that tying your future hopes and dreams for a Red Sox revival to the emergence of any of the following will be tantamount to giving all your banking records to a phone scammer. That said you sometimes can get someone who can contribute off the bench or just might not embarrass themselves with some respectable playing time.

Jose Lopez made the All-Star team when he toiled for the Seattle Mariners. Once a semi rising star who hit .266 in seven M’s seasons the magic suddenly evaporated and Lopez – a right-handed hitting infielder – signed on for Japan where the now 35-year-old has played since 2012. Last season Lopez hit just .241, but the good bandboxes of Japan yielded 31 home runs.

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Is Lopez a possible replacement for Brock Holt? Based on age, will he leave Japan, can he cover ground, and toss in your own question mark this may be a real long shot. I would prefer a no shot and look elsewhere among the Japan flotsam.

Elsewhere for an infielder-outfielder combination could yield Cuban Yurisbel Gracial who slashed an impressive .319/.365/.595 with 28 home runs. Gracial is a right-handed hitter and Gracial is also 34-years-old. Can he play the outfield? Gracial appears to be Rusney Castillo without the inflated price tag.

Two names from the very distant past have also surfaced with Kosuke Fukudome and Nori Aoki who both spent considerable time in ML and are natives to Japan. Both are still active in Japan and together account for almost 80 years on earth. If the Red Sox wish age diversity then both are a lock. There is, however, a tinge of youth in Japan with outfielder Stefen Romero.

Romero had a cup of large coffee playing 94 games over three seasons for the Mariners. The soon to be 31-year-old outfielder hit .309 with 20 home runs in Japan, but that was accomplished in 341 plate appearances. A possibility for storage in Pawtucket (AAA) or a fourth outfielder in Boston.

I remember left-handed-hitting Leonys Martin as an above-average center fielder. I also remember Martin hitting just .199 for Cleveland before taking that long plane ride to Japan where he hit a resounding .232, but did have 14 home runs. Martin has a minor league deal written all over his possibilities.

Zoilo Almonte is a switch-hitting outfielder who hit a blistering .211 (2014-15) for your favorite opponent the New York Yankees. Almonte is now 30-years-old and did hit .329 for the Chunichi Dragons, but there may be a potential bright light opportunity with teammate Dayan Viciedo.

Viciedo has some real plus points in his MLB background hitting .254 in six seasons with the White Sox. Viciedo did manage a career 0.6 fWAR in his MLB career along with a -3.7 UZR/150. In japan, the right-handed Viciedo hit .315 and walked more and struck out less than in his MLB days. The downside is he is contractually obligated to Chunichi for 2020. The best of the litter seems not available.

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Japan seems to be a dead-end regarding bats and the same applies to pitching unless Boston wishes to toss out big dollars for another Dice-K.  At this point, it is pointless to explore Japan and even the KBO (Korean) league.