Former Red Sox reliever Matt Andriese takes his talents to Japan, signs with Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball

Former Red Sox reliever Matt Andriese has signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball for the 2022 season, the team announced on Friday.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the contract is worth $2.1 million and includes up to $500,000 in potential incentives.

Andriese, 32, inked a similar one-year deal with the Red Sox last December that came with $2.1 million in guaranteed money. Boston signed the veteran right-hander with hopes that he could provide rotation depth and pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen when needed, though it ultimately did not work out in the end.

While Andriese may have taught fellow reliever Garrett Whitlock his changeup, the righty struggled to the tune of a 6.03 ERA and 4.70 FIP to go along with 38 strikeouts to 11 walks over 26 appearances spanning 37 1/3 innings of work in his time with the Red Sox.

On July 10, Boston placed Andriese on the 10-day injured list due to right hamstring tendinitis. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester the following month, but was designated for assignment when the club needed to create space on its 40-man roster on August 17.

After clearing waivers and getting released by the Sox, Andriese latched on with the Mariners on Aug. 22 and pitched to a much-improved 2.45 ERA (1.81 FIP) in eight appearances (11 innings pitched) with Seattle.

That said, the Mariners removed Andriese from their 40-man roster when they called up top pitching prospect Matt Brash from Triple-A Tacoma in late September.

Andriese became a free agent once more heading into the off-season. Instead of signing a minor-league pact with another club, however, the California native opted to take his talents to Japan.

A veteran of seven big-league seasons between the Rays, Diamondbacks, Angels, Red Sox, and Mariners, Andriese does have some experience pitching overseas. The 6-foot-2, 215 pound hurler participated in the MLB Japan All-Star Series back in 2018.

If Andriese, who turns 33 in August, performs well with his new team in Tokyo, he could potentially look to make his way back to Major League Baseball next year.

(Picture of Matt Andriese: Patrick Smith/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)

Red Sox ‘uninterested’ in exploring four-year deals for free-agent pitchers this winter, prefer ‘shorter-term deals of up to to two or three years in length’

Before coveted Japanese right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano returned to the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization on Thursday, it appeared as though the Red Sox had at least some interest in signing the 31-year-old hurler before his posting period ended.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, “the Sox had some interest in Sugano – who possesses excellent command of a four-pitch mix anchored by a low-90s fastball along with a slider and splitter – but his asking price exceeded the team’s level of interest.”

This is mainly the case because Sugano was reportedly seeking out a contract of four years or more from interested clubs, which apparently goes against Boston’s philosophy when it comes to signing free-agent pitchers this offseason.

In other words, the Red Sox “have been uninterested in exploring deals of that length for pitchers” and “have been focused on shorter-term deals of up to two or three years in length this winter,” per Speier.

Free-agent righty Jake Odorizzi would seemingly fit that mold after The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Wednesday that the 30-year-old “expects to land a three-year contract in the $36 million to $42 million range” at some point this winter.

Aside from Odorizzi, who is familiar with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom from their time together in Tampa Bay, Speier notes that while top free-agent pitcher Trevor Bauer likely won’t garner interest from the Red Sox on account of his hefty price tag, the club is still very much in need of starting pitching help following a dismal 2020 campaign from its shorthanded rotation.

With that in mind, Boston may look into signing other veterans still on the market such as Corey Kluber or Rich Hill, both of whom reside in Massachusetts during the offseason.

Kluber, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, is expected to hold a workout — one in which the Red Sox will attend — for interested teams in Florida on January 13.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)