The Red Sox have outrighted reliever Hirokazu Sawamura to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.
Sawamura, like Austin Davis, was designated for assignment on Monday so that the Red Sox could shake up their bullpen and call up right-handers Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort from Triple-A Worcester. While Davis has since been claimed by the Twins, Sawamura has cleared waivers and will remain in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.
The 34-year-old righty out of Japan originally signed a two-year, $3 million deal with Boston last February after spending the previous 10 seasons with the Yomiuri Giants and Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball. The contract also included a dual player/club option for 2023.
In 49 relief appearances for the Red Sox this season, Sawamura posted a 3.73 ERA and 4.17 FIP with 40 strikeouts to 27 walks over 50 2/3 innings of work. That includes a 6.46 ERA in 15 outings since the All-Star break and a 5.83 ERA in 26 outings at Fenway Park. The 6-foot, 212-pound hurler currently ranks in the ninth percentile in hard-hit rate (44.8%) and the seventh percentile in walk rate (12.2%), per Baseball Savant.
Since making his major-league debut last spring, Sawamura has pitched to a 3.39 ERA (4.59 FIP) across 104 appearances (103 2/3 innings) with Boston. He will now provide the club with experienced bullpen depth in Worcester through the end of the season.
According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Sawamura’s dual option for next season is still intact. The club option is worth $3.7 million, meaning the Red Sox can bring him back for that price in 2023. If they decline, Sawamura can then exercise a $1.9 million player option to return or decline it and be paid $1 million in the form of a buyout. If Sawamura is back with the Sox in some capacity next spring, he will still not count towards the 40-man roster.
(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)