By Jeff Louderback
Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose sizable contract is now off the books, never fully met expectations during his six-year Red Sox tenure. After recovering from Tommy John surgery, 26-year-old right-hander Junichi Tazawa emerged as arguably the best option in the Boston bullpen this season, posting a 1.43 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in 37 games and 44 innings. According to media reports, the Red Sox are pursuing another Japanese pitching phenom, 18-year-old Shohei Otani.
Red Sox international scouting director Eddie Romero and Pacific Rim coordinator Jon Deeble met with Otani, who has also visited with all 12 teams in the Nippon Professional Baseball League and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers.
Bidding for Otani’s services would not require a posting fee since he has not signed with a professional team in Japan. The pursuit for Otani would be much like when Boston signed Tazawa as an international free agent in December 2008. Tazawa had pitched in a Japanese industrial league but was not a professional.
According to media reports, Otani has been clocked with a 100 m.p.h. fast ball.