The Red Sox made the signing of pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura official
The right-handed relief pitcher had unofficially been known to be in agreement with the Red Sox on a contract over two years with a player/club option for a third year. The contract is worth a base salary of $3 million with incentives that can sweeten the pot financially for the 32-year-old.
In correspondence with the announcement, relief pitcher Jeffrey Springs was designated for assignment and has become the latest 40-man roster casualty.
Boston has been busy adding to its pitching arsenal this offseason, making several splashes on the free-agent market. Sawamura is the latest roster move to date and will not be the last as recently signed Marwin Gonzalez’s one-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox has yet to be announced formally. That transaction is expected to be announced in the shortcomings, with yet another corresponding move to follow.
In adding Sawamura, the front office took a creative alternative with scouring the international market and finding a player to take on without spending a significant amount of money or paying a posting fee. Even with several players with MLB experience still on the open market, management felt that this type of move would better suit the direction the team appears to be taking in low-risk, high-reward moves.
The fate of Springs is still up in the air, as he can either be claimed by another team with interest in the 28-year-old, or Boston could potentially pass him through waivers and stash him down in Triple-A for the foreseeable future. After being acquired by the Red Sox last offseason in a one-for-one trade for former Boston first baseman Sam Travis, Springs pitched to the tune of a 7.08 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched. Whether another team will be intrigued enough to take a flier on the lefty is unclear, but with limited space on the 26-man roster, his days were likely limited after a poor showing in 2020.
Sawamura has been well covered after news of his ties to the Red Sox first surfaced. He appears to be a good get after rebounding from a tough season with the Chiba Lotte Marines after being traded from the Yomiuri Giants after playing there for nine seasons. Post-trade, he posted an ERA of 1.71 over 22 games. The righty was a long-time late-inning option in the NPB and accumulated 75 saves over his ten seasons in Japan.
Should that success carry over to the major leagues, Boston will continue to improve on an area of weakness last season in the form of a sturdy back end of the bullpen in complementing another recent addition to the pitching core in relief pitcher Adam Ottavino.
The team’s roster is beginning to take shape and as more additions are made, more casualties follow which will surely lead to some tougher roster crunch decisions down the line.