Former Boston relief pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura According to Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe, he is looking for another opportunity in the United States rather than returning to Japan.
After pitching for 10 years in Nippon Professional Baseball, Sawamura moved to the United States and signed a two-year, $3 million deal with the Red Sox. He compiled his 2.77 ERA in his 868 1/3 NPB innings. Sawamura initially worked as a starter for the Yomiuri, but switched to the bullpen and became the team’s closer in 2015. A shoulder injury forced him to miss his 2017 season, but he will make it to the finals in 2021. He returned as a quality set-up man before moving to the United States.
When the Red Sox acquired the then-32-year-old Sawamura, it was seen as an affordable deal with considerable benefits if he could perform well in his transition to MLB. Although he never blossomed into a dominant relief arm, he gave the Sox valuable middle relief innings. In 2021, Sawamura pitched 53 innings with a 3.06 ERA, stole hitters with a strong 26.2% batting average, and walked at a below-average 13.7% rate.
2022 started off well for Sawamura, posting a 2.48 ERA on July 23rd. However, things quickly took a turn for the worse, with Sawamura posting a 5.40 ERA the following month, after which the Red Sox decided to pick him in late August. Overall, Sawamura recorded a 3.39 ERA in Boston as he pitched 103 2/3 innings. Given his modest salary, the DFA may come as a bit of a surprise, but there are some troubling signs beneath the surface, with Sawamura having a declining strikeout rate towards the end of his time with the Red Sox, I was watching the HardHit% jump up.
It is also possible that the DFA had financial motives. There will be club and player options in 2023 and the value of these options will increase based on performance.At the time of the DFA Sawamura’s player his option was $1.9MM while his club option was $1.9MM. It was 3.7MM. Player his options would have increased to $2MM in his 50th appearance, but the Sox DFA acquired him after his 49th appearance. Boston would send Sawamura outright to Triple-A, but he requested his release from the team after 10 days to pursue other opportunities.The Red Sox granted that release, and Sawamura will be released in 2023. Received an optional $1 million buyout.