Red Sox

McAdam: Red Sox closing in on deal with Japanese reliever; MLB to make changes to spring schedule

(Chung Sung-Yun/Getty Images)

There are a number of attractive free-agent relievers still available at this late hour, but in their effort to add to their depth, the Red Sox have, somewhat surprisingly, turned instead to Japan.

Various reports in the Japanese media -- and confirmed by MassLive.com -- have the Red Sox inching closer to an agreement with Hirokazu Sawamura, 32, a righthander reliever who has pitched for both the Yomiuri Giants and the Chiba Lotte Marines for the past 10 years.

Sawamura has a fastball that he throws in the high 90s and a split-finger fastball that he throws 90 mph.

Earlier in his career, he was mostly a starter before transitioning to the bullpen. In 2015 and 2016, he was the Giants' primary closer, saving 73 games between the two seasons. More recently, he worked in more of a high-leverage set-up capacity -- the same role the Sox foresee for him.

If a deal is completed, it would reportedly be a major league deal.

This is not the first time the Red Sox have looked to the East to find bullpen help.

Although Daisuke Matsuzaka is the most notable Japanese pitcher to have worn a Red Sox uniform, the team has a history of employing Japanese relievers: