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Red Sox sign Watanabe to minor league deal

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 17, 2013 07:42 PM

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The Red Sox have signed 37-year-old Japan League veteran Shunsuke Watanabe to a minor league contract. He will report to minor league spring training in March and work as a reliever.

Watanabe was primarily a starter for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, going 87-82 with a 3.65 earned run average over 12 seasons. He also played for Japan twice in the World Baseball Classic. Watanabe was 0-4, 4.62 in six starts last season.

Watanabe has a severe submarine-stye delivery that finishes with him releasing the ball a few inches above the mound.

The Red Sox also released righthander Chris Carpenter so he could sign with the Yakult Swallow of the Japanese Central League. Carpenter, 27, was obtained from the Chicago Cubs in 2012 as compensation for the departure of general manager Theo Epstein to Chicago.

Carpenter appeared in eight games for the Sox in 2012, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and 10 walks over six innings. He was 0-2, 4.62 in 34 minor league games last season.

The Sox also received RHP Aaron Kurcz from the Cubs in that compensation deal. Kurcz had a 3.04 ERA with Double A Portland last season.

Lefthanded reliever Matt Thornton signed with the Yankees on Tuesday for two years and $7 million. The Red Sox made Thornton a free agent after the season when they declined his option for 2014.

The Red Sox obtained Thornton from the White Sox on July 12 and he was a disappointment, appearing in only 20 games before being left off the postseason roster, Thornton, 37, had a 1.76 WHIP and struck out only nine in 15 1/3 innings.

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