Boston Red Sox

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 12: Pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura # 15 of Japan pitchs in the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Japan and the Netherlands at Tokyo Dome on March 12, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth,

The Red Sox are continuing to add to their bullpen, with just a week until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers. They do so by signing an arm from Japan, a market Chaim Bloom has been aggressive in all offseason.

According to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe, the Red Sox are expected to reach a deal with 32-year-old right hander Hirokazu Sawamura. The expectation is the deal with be a two-year contract, worth a base of $2.4 million before incentives.

Sawamura has pitched in Japan for the last 10 seasons, with nine and a half of those coming for the Yomiuri Giants. He was the Central League’s Rookie of the Year in 2011 as a starter, and moved to the bullpen in 2015. In 2013, he was a member of Japan’s World Baseball Classic team.

In 2020, Sawamura got off to a rough start, and at one point was sent down to the minors. However, a change of scenery proved to be what he needed after the Giants dealt him at the NPB trade deadline. He was dominant in 22 appearances for the Chiba Lotte Marines, posting a 1.71 ERA and 0.952 WHIP in 21 innings.

Sawamura’s repertoire is highlighted by a mid-90’s fastball, that can touch 99 MPH when he’s on his game. That pitch is paired with a wipeout splitter, and a lesser-used slider. He’s a strikeout pitcher, and had a 12.4 K/9 ratio in his time with Chibe Lotte.

The nature of Sawamura’s deal means it’s likely he’ll begin the season on the Red Sox active roster. He joins a group that could end up being significantly overhauled from last season.

Sawamura is the third Japanese pitcher the Red Sox have been linked to this offseason. Kohei Arihara signed with the Rangers in late December, and Tomoyuki Sugano elected to return to pitch in Japan in early January.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at