Red Sox strike trade with Rays and acquire Japanese pitcher who just moved to MLB

2024 Dominican Republic Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays
2024 Dominican Republic Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox targeted two pitchers from Japan this season in Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shōta Imanaga.

The Sox came up empty-handed both times. But with just hours to go until Opening Day, Boston has acquired a pitcher with a history in Nippon Professional Baseball.

The Red Sox and Rays have made a trade that will reportedly bring Naoyuki Uwasawa to Boston for cash considerations. The right-hander triggered the assignment clause in his minor-league contract with Tampa Bay, forcing them to find a new home for him.

Uwasawa pitched nine seasons in NPB to the tune of a 3.42 career ERA. The 30-year-old posted one of the best campaigns of his career in 2023 — he logged a 2.96 ERA and it's the second time he's secured a sub-three figure. Uwasawa pitched 170 innings and logged two complete game shutouts last year, so his durability could benefit Boston greatly. He also registered a 3.02 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Red Sox make a trade with rival Rays to acquire former NPB pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa

Uwasawa has a deep arsenal of six pitches, including a fastball, splitter, slider, curveball, cutter and changeup. He uses all but the changeup at least 10% of the time, and while Uwasawa has few exceptional pitches, his unpredictability and deception have resulted in success.

His spring training numbers leave something to be desired, though. Uwasawa made four appearances for the Rays in the Grapefruit League and he racked up a 13.03 ERA over 9.2 innings. He let up 15 hits and 14 earned runs, three of them homers.

Hopefully, the Red Sox's revamped coaching staff will be able to work with Uwasawa to rediscover his 2023 NPB form. Boston could put a durable pitcher like him to good use in Lucas Giolito's absence.

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