While exploring options to improve their roster this offseason, the Red Sox have looked towards the international market for potential additions.
So far, the Sox have been in on the likes of Japanese right-hander Kohei Arihara and Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim, both of whom recently signed with other clubs in the Rangers and Padres.
That being said, Boston, by all accounts, is still in pursuit of another free-agent hurler out of Japan in Tomoyuki Sugano, a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award (Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young Award) who was posted by the NPB’s Yomiuri Giants earlier this month.
Appearing on WEEI earlier Wednesday afternoon, Red Sox chief baseball officer addressed his club’s interest in the 31-year-old righty.
“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 an international talent such as Sugano. “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.”
Going back to Arihara and Kim, Bloom emphasized that while recruiting the pair of international sensations was important, there were other factors out of the team’s control to consider as well.
“I think with some of these other guys, [recruiting] is still part of what you do,” he said. “You want to put your best foot forward. You want to engage with the player to the extent that you can through the process and get to know them. I think there’s a little less of that now, obviously because it can’t happen in person, but it’s still something you do with those guys.
“But, I think to different degrees with different players, the money is obviously going to be a huge factor,” Bloom added. “And I don’t blame the players for that. Obviously, they want to make sure they’re comfortable with there they go — and that is a factor in some cases — but you also never know how many chances you’re going to have to set yourself up financially. And they’re right to care about that as well.”
Neither Arihara, who at 28 signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal with Texas, nor Kim, who at 25 reportedly signed a four-year, $25 million deal with San Diego, received too large of a payday. As previously alluded to, that would make it seem as though both players had other priorities in mind when deciding which major-league club to sign with.
“I think in different situations, you will sometimes see — especially when the money amount is smaller — there are other factors that come into play more,” stated the Sox’ CBO. “Players will sometimes pick teams, pick from similar offers based on certain other factors that are important to them. Whenever we’re involved in that type of situation, we want to put our best foot forward and make sure that we can show a player how we can appeal to them. But, people are different and everybody’s got different things that they like and value. Money’s part of that and sometimes there are other factors that are part of that.
“I think historically, there’s a certain type of player that draws to Boston, and there’s certain types of players that would rather play elsewhere,” Bloom said. “This place is not for everybody, and you want to make sure that the players we’re bringing here in those circumstances are guys that are going to thrive playing here and really want to be here.”
So, if Sugano is indeed someone who Bloom and Co. believe fits the above criteria and really wants to play in Boston, the Red Sox have until 5 p.m. eastern time on January 7 to sign him.
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel predicted earlier this month that a two-year, $24 million deal could be enough for a team to land the veteran right-hander’s services. We will have to wait and see on that, but January 7 is approaching rather quickly.