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Report: Tazawa to sign with Red Sox

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  November 26, 2008 06:20 PM

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Reports coming out of Japan indicate that the Red Sox are the choice of coveted amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa, a 22-year-old righthander who idolizes Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Sankei Sports reported on Thursday that Tazawa told an associate that he has agreed to a three-year major league deal with the Red Sox, placing him on Boston's 40-man roster. The official announcement is expected on Dec. 1 according to the report.

The Mainichi Daily News said on Tuesday that Tazawa is likely to officially announce next week that he will join the Red Sox. He is expected to sign a major league contract with the Red Sox and begin his professional career in the minor leagues, the newspaper reported.

Nikkan Sports reported that Tazawa cut off negotiations will all other MLB clubs.

"I appreciate that I have been highly rated by the teams. I want to make a decision [which team to sign with] as soon as possible," Tazawa said Monday after meeting with Texas Rangers representatives.

Tazawa, who pitched for Nippon Oil Eneos in the Japan Industrial League and was the Most Valuable Player of the Intercity Baseball Tournament this summer, graduated from high school in Yokohama and has said he wants to play for the same team as Matsuzaka, who went to another high school in Yokohama.

That desire apparently is a primary factor in his decision to accept the Red Sox' offer, which is not the most lucrative proposal he has received, according to the Mainichi Daily News. The Rangers are thought to have presented the richest deal both in terms of salary and contract length, while the the Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves also made offers. Several Japanese media outlets reported Friday that Tazawa declined offers from the Rangers, Braves, and Mariners, leaving the Red Sox as his only remaining potential suitor.

Tazawa, who was passed over by Japan's 12 professional teams in the recent draft after requesting that he not be selected so he could pursue a career in the United States, is more of an intriguing prospect than a finished product at this point. Reports say he throws in the low 90s, with a quality breaking ball and a changeup.

Daigo Fujiwara of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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