After missing out on the sweepstakes for closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen -- two of the most coveted free agents entering the offseason -- the Miami Marlins diverted their attention elsewhere and inked relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa to a two-year, $12 million deal on Thursday evening, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Although they missed out on acquiring the premier closer they were after, the Marlins have A.J. Ramos at their disposal for use in the closer’s role, where he performed well at over the previous season. Ramos notched 40 saves -- the fourth-most in the National League -- with Miami in 2016 and pitched to a 2.81 ERA over 64 innings of work.
Even with Ramos, the Marlins had a need bullpen depth, as the club declined the $4.5 million option of Fernando Rodney, who served a key role down the stretch for Miami but doesn’t exactly profile as the type of investment the club was looking to make, given that he will turn 40 years old before the 2017 season commences. So, the Marlins’ search continued, and the club eventually found a fit in a Tazawa.
Tazawa, who is 30 years old, was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 2008 out of Japan and pitched for the organization through the 2016 season. The right-handed reliever was a notable attribute to Boston’s World Series title in 2013 and has appeared in at least 53 games each season since that very year.
In 2016, Tazawa logged 49 and 2/3 innings for the Red Sox and managed a 54:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio across his 53 appearances. Tazawa was sidelined from July 4 to July 22 with a right shoulder impingement, but he was able to return to his regular workload to close out the year.