Red Sox Make Offer To Tazawa UPDATE
UPDATE: News on the Tazawa front, with the Boston Globe reporting that Tazawa has accepted the Red Sox offer. Chad Fidd reported early early Friday morning that Tazawa had picked the Red Sox above the Braves, Rangers and Tigers, and since then the Kyoto Wire service out of Japan has reported that Tazawa formally turned down the Braves and Rangers offers, which would leave Boston as the lone team still in line to sign him.
Tazawa agreed to the deal discussed in the post below, though an additional addendum was made to stipulate that he would be included on the initial 40-man roster. Tazawa graduated from high school in Yokohama, and said that pitching for the same team as national icon Daisuke Matsuzaka, another Yokohama native, was a significant motive for the young pitcher. Interestingly, money may not have been, as the Boston offer is reportedly less lucrative than the one extended to Tazawa from the Rangers and, possibly, from the Braves as well. Japanese outlet Sankei Sports is reporting that the Boston deal is for 3 years and $6 million.
There's been healthy scuttlebutt about where Japanese pitching starlet Junichi Tazawa will end up next year all offseason, with reports leaking out that as many as four teams (Red Sox, Braves, Mariners and Rangers) have made offers to the 22 year old.
Well, now we've got details about the Boston offer, and there are reports -- from Japanese outlet Nikkan Sports -- that Tazawa has already decided on signing with the Red Sox.
NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman is reporting the Boston offer is for $3 million across three years, a significant downgrade over rumors that trickled out only hours earlier that the contract would be for $6 million. Newman says the deal will start by having Tazawa begin in AA, where he'll remain a starter (a number of teams were courting him as a reliever) and where he'll have a personal translator. The deal is being pitched as a developmental opportunity for Tazawa, who seems taken with it.
Evidently the Red Sox offer came after a nearly two-hour negotiating session between Tazawa, his agent and Craig Shipley, Boston's VP of international scouting. Shipley's legend has grown exponentially in the international scouting circuit, buoyed mostly by his six-year courtship of Daisuke Matsuzaka, eventually resulting in Boston's negotiation-winning bid for the Seibu turned Red Sox ace and his eventual spot on the Red Sox roster and in the subsequent 2007 World Series-winning rotation.
If you want more background on Tazawa, and why teams are lining up for his services (the Indians and Tigers have also held talks with his agents), here's a Japanese prospect piece from ESPN's Jim Allen. Note that Allen doubts Tazawa's velocity (88-90 mph tops) and endurance, but loves his slurve, which could be a huge asset in America. And if you happen to doubt Allen's analysis of this particular Japanese free agent class -- and Tazawa in particular -- it's worth reading this response piece from the East Windup Chronicle, among my personal favorites.
And here's another great link, passed on from a commenter below, from the New York Times' incomparable Alan Schwarz (and Brad Lefton, to be fair) about Tazawa and how his American courtship has infuriated a number of Japanese baseball officials. It's a great piece and really gets to the bottom of why Tazawa is such a big deal. To have Japanese players abandoning the domestic professional system for developmental opportunities in America is a seismic shift, and one that could change the face of both leagues ... and circumvent the highly controversial posting system in the process. Thanks again for the heads up. Much appreciated, as are all the comments.
November 28, 2008; 5:04 PM ET
Categories: Braves , Indians , Mariners , Rangers , Red Sox , Tigers
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