The Marlins signed veteran relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa to a two year, $12 million deal today.
Source: #Marlins sign free-agent reliever Junichi Tazawa to two-year contract.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2016
According to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, the Marlins will pay Tazawa $5 million in 2017 and $7 million in 2018. The deal is a great one for the Marlins, who are getting a solid veteran reliever for a very low price.
The Marlins were after high-profile closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, and offered them both five-year deals worth north of $80 million, but both closers chose to sign elsewhere for about the same price. However, Chapman and Jansen not choosing Miami may have worked in the Marlins’ favor. They now have a good chunk of money that can be better spent on smaller reliever deals like this one with Tazawa.
The right-hander was signed by the Red Sox out of Japan in 2008 and has spent his entire career in Boston. Over seven major league seasons, Tazawa has posted a 3.58 ERA and 1.263 WHIP with 308 strikeouts in 312 innings pitched.
In 2016 with Boston, Tazawa had his worst full season in the states, which played a role in his low-cost contract. The 30-year-old pitched to a 4.17 ERA and 1.228 WHIP with 54 strikeouts and 14 walks in 49 2⁄3 innings last season. His ERA and walks per nine were at a career-worst (in seasons in which he threw more than 26 innings) but his 9.8 strikeouts per nine was a career-high.
Tazawa struggled in his final two seasons with Boston, which led to the Red Sox not re-signing him, but if he can regain the form of his first three full seasons, the righty could be a great addition to the Marlins bullpen.
When Tazawa was at his best in Boston he served as a set-up man, but was moved into a middle relief role for the last two seasons. With A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough now maintaining a solid grip on the final two innings, Tazawa should slide into a middle relief role with the Marlins as well.
The Marlins 40-man roster is currently full, so when the team makes the Tazawa signing official, a move will need to be made. A younger player could be optioned off of the 40-man or a pitcher like Odrisamer Despaigne could be designated for assignment to make room.