Red Sox make Martín Pérez re-signing official, designate right-hander Chris Mazza for assignment

Nearly a full month after reaching an agreement with him, the Red Sox announced on Friday that they have brought back left-hander Martin Perez on a one-year contract for the 2021 season that includes a club option for 2022.

In order to make room for Perez on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox also designated right-hander Chris Mazza for assignment on Friday.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported back in January that Perez, 30 in April, will earn a base salary of $4.5 million this season and will have the opportunity to earn $6 million in 2022 if his club option is picked up.

If not, Perez will net himself $500,000 in the form of a buyout, so he is guaranteed to make $5 million regardless of what happens next winter. His deal also includes incentives based on number of innings pitched in 2021 and 2022.

The 29-year-old hurler is a few months removed from a solid 2020 campaign with the Red Sox in which he posted a 4.50 ERA and 4.88 FIP over 12 starts and 62 innings pitched in his first go-around in Boston.

Don’t let those numbers fool you, though, because outside of two poor outings against the Orioles on July 25 and September 24, Perez proved to be one of the Sox’ most consistent starters last year by putting up a 3.57 ERA and .686 OPS against in 10 starts (53 innings) from July 30 through September 18.

The Red Sox originally inked the Venezuelan international to a one-year pact that also included a $6.25 million team option back in December 2019, but went on to decline that option this past November.

At the time, Perez was rather dismayed by that decision, but he did not give up hope that he might be able to re-sign with the club this winter.

“I was disappointed at one point,” he said when speaking with reporters via Zoom earlier Friday evening. “But at the same time, I told my agent, ‘I want to wait because I know they’re trying to make a lot of moves.’ And I want to wait because all offseason, my mind was in Boston — my heart too. I felt good last year. I enjoyed the short season that we played, and I especially enjoyed the fans and how they texted me after games. You guys, too, do a great job for me. That’s why I always told my agent, ‘I want to be back. I just want to wait and let’s see what they got for me.’ And finally, we made the deal and now I’m back.”

Given his return to Boston’s pitching staff, Perez figures to open the 2021 season as the Sox’ No. 2 or No. 3 starter depending on how things play out at spring training. He joins a mix of arms vying for rotation spots that consists of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathen Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Matt Andriese, and Garrett Whitlock.

Moving on to Mazza now, the 31-year-old was designated for assignment by the Sox a little under 14 months after originally being claimed off waivers from the Mets in late December 2019.

Starting the 2020 season at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Mazza made his Red Sox debut on August 1 and went on to produce a 4.80 ERA and 4.26 FIP over nine appearances, six of which were starts, and 30 innings of work in three separate stints with the team.

The Red Sox now have a week to either trade, release, or sneak Mazza through waivers, though it doesn’t seem too crazy for another team to put in a waiver claim for the California native considering the fact he still has one minor-league option remaining for 2021.

With this transaction completed, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is at full capacity, which means two spots still need to be cleared so that Hirokazu Sawamura and Marwin Gonzalez can be added sooner rather than later.

That will be something to monitor as the start of major-league camp draws closer (February 18).

(Picture of Martin Perez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox reach agreement with Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura on two-year deal, per report

The Red Sox have reportedly reached agreement on a two-year, major-league contract with Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Per Speier, who cites Japanese sports newspaper Sankei Sports, Sawamura’s deal is worth $2.4 million and could include more in additional incentives.

The veteran right-hander, who turns 33 in April, had pitched in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization since 2011, most recently splitting time between the Yomiuri Giants and Chiba Lotte Marines in 2020.

To start out the campaign, Sawamura struggled with Yomiuri and put up an unsightly 6.08 ERA through his first 13 appearances and 13 1/3 innings of work on the year.

A midseason trade to Chiba Lotte turned things around for the 6-foot, 212 lb. righty, though, as he yielded just four earned runs on 10 hits, 10 walks, and 29 strikeouts over his final 22 relief outings and 21 innings pitched of 2020. That’s good for an ERA of 1.71 and WHIP of 0.95.

Sawamura has not started a game since 2015, so it seems likely that the Red Sox view him as a reliever moving forward.

Going off of that, Speier wrote: “Multiple evaluators saw Sawamura as at least a seventh-inning reliever, a pitcher who alternately dominates the strike zone with elite stuff and then loses the strike zone completely. Still, based on his peaks in the NPB, there’s a chance for an even more prominent late-innings role.”

Born in Tochigi, Japan, Sawamura’s pitch mix consists of a “high-octane fastball” that sits anywhere from 94-99 mph, “a hard swing-and-miss splitter” that sits in the low-90s, and a “below-average slider,” as noted by Speier.

Because he was an unrestricted free agent, Sawamura was not subject to the posting system between NPB and Major League Baseball. This means that the Red Sox do not have to pay Chiba Lotte a posting fee in order to acquire Sawamura’s services, which is something MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo pointed out on Sunday.

By reportedly signing Sawamura to a major-league contract, the Red Sox will have to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for the Japanese hurler. There will surely be more to come on that front.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)

Red Sox making progress on deal with Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, per report

The Red Sox are making progress towards a major-league deal with Japanese right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, “it’s unclear if the sides have agreed to terms yet, but things certainly seem to be trending in that direction.”

Sawamura, who turns 33 in April, has since 2011 spent the entirety of his professional career in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization , most recently splitting the 2020 season between the Yomiuri Giants and Chiba Lotte Marines.

Over 35 total relief appearances with the two clubs, Sawamura initially struggled to the tune of a 6.08 ERA with Yomiuri, but turned things around for the better after gettind dealt to Chiba Lotte midseason.

In 22 outings out of the Marines bullpen, the 6-foot, 212 lb. righty posted a 1.71 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and a 29:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 21 innings of work. He also recorded one save and 13 holds.

As noted by Cotillo, Sawamura has not started a game in Japan since 2015, so he would likely be slated for a spot in the Red Sox’ bullpen if he were to sign with the club, which seems just about imminent at this point.

Going off another point Cotillo made, Sawamura is currently an unrestricted free agent, so he is not subject to the posting system between the NPB and Major League Baseball.

Put another way, Boston — or any other team — does not have to pay Chiba Lotte in order to acquire Sawamura’s services this offseason.

A native of Tochigi, Japan, Sawamura’s pitch arsenal consists of a high-velocity fastball, a low-90s splitter, and a slider, per MLB Trade Rumors’ Anthony Franco.

The fact that the Sox are in on someone like Sawamura does not come as much of a surprise given the club’s interest in other international free agents (Ha-Seong Kim, Kohei Arihara, Tomoyuki Sugano) this winter.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom addressed the international market for free-agent pitchers when speaking with WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Jon Meterparel back in late December.

“I think it’s more difficult in a sense than it is with a pitcher who has pitched a lot domestically, where you just have more information,” Bloom said when asked about evaluating talent overseas. “But, that doesn’t necessarily mean a pitcher from that market is an unwise investment. I think… there’s a lot more unknowns when you’re bringing someone over to compete in a different league, on a different schedule than they’re used to competing. But, baseball’s baseball. We have a number of examples, including in this organization, of guys coming from that market and having success. I think we have, as an industry, a decent ability to predict how they’ll do. So, that’s a market I think we need to involve ourselves in just like any other.”

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)