Craig Shipley, the Red Sox vice president of international scouting, confirmed to the Globe's Amalie Benjamin that the club has made an offer to Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa, but did not offer further details.
Japanese newspapers Sankei Sports and Nikkan Sports in Tokyo reported earlier today that Red Sox vice president of international scouting Craig Shipley met with Tazawa for nearly two hours Sunday afternoon, and that the club made him an offer, reportedly for as much as $6 million, that would place the 22-year-old pitcher on the team's 40-man roster for 2009.
Four teams are thought to have offered contracts to Tazawa. The Rangers reportedly have made the highest offer, followed by Red Sox, then the Braves (reportedly in the $4 million-$5 million range). Terms of a potential offer by the Mariners are not known. Japanese newspapers seem to think the Red Sox have the edge, mostly because their development programs for young pitchers are highly regarded and because Tazawa's hero -- Daisuke Matsuzaka -- pitches for Boston.
Tazawa is still officially a member of the Nippon Oil team in the Japanese Industrial League. He will officially leave the team Tuesday, Nov. 25, and is expected to announce where he will play in 2009 shortly thereafter.
The Sox have been scouting Tazawa for more than a year, according to the Globe's Tony Massarotti, but a club official cautioned against unrealistic expectations for Tazawa, who likely needs time in the minor leagues and who might be a comparable talent to someone like former Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners righthander Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
According to Massarotti's source, Tazawa throws in the low 90s -- not in the 97-mile per hour range, as some have reported -- and possesses a good breaking ball to go along with a changeup.
Tazawa was passed over by Japan's 12 professional teams in the recent amateur draft. He had told Japanese teams not to draft him so he could pursue a career playing in the United States.
-- DAIGO FUJIWARA, GLOBE STAFF