The Red Sox could look to the Japanese leagues for pitching options
The Boston Red Sox need pitching and that may mean turning over every possible rock in every baseball outpost. The Red Sox have had their share of Japanese players with mixed results and have a former player from the Japanese leagues on the roster, Ryan Brasier, who has also given those previously mentioned mixed results on a personal level.
There are several players with MLB experience currently in Japan and a few names pop up that may elicit some potential interest and just one got my shiny car keys attention. I am not one to simply dismiss players from Japan as they have most certainly proven their value, so scoping out the lists from the Japan Central and Pacific Leagues there are two others of the where are they now and how are they doing with Red Sox roots?
The Tampa Bay Rays are noted for their low-ball approach to payroll and avoiding long-term commitments, but one they did was a failure. Left-hander Matt Moore was signed to a five-year deal after the 2011 season in which Moore went 1-0 in 9.1 innings. For two seasons this seemed like a wise investment and then came Tommy John Surgery and Moore has never fully returned to his 2013 All-Star form (17-4, 3.29 ERA).
Moore has made the MLB rounds, including leading the National League in losses (15) while with the Giants in 2017. In 2019, Moore suffered a knee injury with the Tigers that eventually cost him the season after two impressive starts. Moore became a free agent and signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
Moore’s results with Fukuoka were impressive with 13 starts encompassing 78 innings with a 2.5 BB/9 and 10.3 K/9. The result was a 6-3 record for the 31-year-old and apparently, his knee is no longer an issue.
Moore was on a one-year deal with the Hawks that paid $2.28 MM and his 2019 contract with the Tigers was $2.5 MM so the price range for Moore may be in the $2-3 MM area if he chooses to return stateside. In his brief stay with the Tigers, Moore’s velocity was 93.5 mph which was slightly higher than his great 2013 season. His main pitches are his fastball and a cutter along with a curve and change.
Moore is a starter and has performed that in Japan with success in 2020. The Red Sox certainly need depth as injuries and the unexpected seems to surface with eerie regularity. With two left-handers in question mark status at the start of 2021 and Martin Perez now gone, the Red Sox certainly have a lefty opening. Moore could be worth exploring as a relatively low-risk option for his former boss Chaim Bloom. Now for two former Red Sox connections.
Remember Rubby De La Rosa? The hard tossing right-hander was part of the Nick Punto trade and never really resonated in Boston, but did briefly after being shipped to Arizona, going 14-9 before injuries slammed the MLB door shut. De La Rosa has been working out of the bullpen for the Yomiuri Giants for two seasons appearing in 60 games with 25 saves. The soon to be 32-year-old has a 3.5 BB/9, 9.5 K/9, and 6.1 H/9 with the Giants.
Lefty Kris Johnson was a first-round pick by the Red Sox way back in 2006 and has now been a mainstay in Japan for six seasons. Johnson had a brief – very brief – MLB career going 0-3 in two cups of coffee seasons. The 36-year-old has been in the Hiroshima rotation since 2015 going 57-37 with a 2.76 ERA.