The Red Sox were aggressive in pursuit of Japanese reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, outbidding other teams and putting together a complicated contract offer that could keep Sawamura in their control through the 2023 season.
But even with their approach, it seems like the Red Sox owe a major assist to former reliever Koji Uehara for the signing.
In a Zoom call with reporters, Sawamura said he consulted with Uehara, who pitched for the Sox from 2013-2016.
"I think Koji had a lot of input into my decision-making process,'' said Sawamura. "He told me a lot of great stuff about the Red Sox and all of his experiences. Back in 2013, when the Red Sox won the World Series, he was coming out of the bullpen with "Sandstorm'' as his entrance music and that was really a cool moment for me. So I started using "Sandstorm'' in Japan. I think that Koji Uehara had a lot of influence and he kind of helped me get to where I am today.''
The Red Sox have had a number of Japanese pitchers in the last 20 years from starters Hideo Nomo to DaisukeMatsuzaka, and bullpen contributors like Hideki Okajima and Junichi Tazawa. But evidently, it was Uehara who had the most impact on selling Sawamura on the idea of pitching in Boston.
Sawamura has pitched professionally in Japan for 10 seasons and enjoyed success there. But at 32, it was time for a new challenge.