In December the Red Sox signed veteran Japanese reliever Shunsuke Watanabe to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
But the marriage won’t be a long-lasting one.
As first reported Saturday by Alex Speier of WEEI, Boston has released the 37-year-old Watanabe, who is now a free agent and will presumably attempt to latch on with a different MLB team. He yielded two runs in three Grapefruit League innings with the Sox.
Watanabe was (or is) trying to break into the majors after 13 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball, during which he compiled a 3.65 ERA and 1.235 WHIP in 1,578 1/3 frames for the Chiba Lotte Marines.
His unique spider-like submarine pitching style is a thing to behold …
Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that the San Francisco Giants “have keen interest” in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, having hit .261/.313/.424 with 20 homers in 2017. He’s also still owed $86 million through 2022. Which, back when the deal was signed seemed like quite a bargain for the Rays — and likely has been over the duration of the contract — but now seems somewhat steep for the 32 year-old third baseman. That said, the Giants currently have Pablo Sandoval penciled in at third base on their depth chart, so Longoria would definitely be an upgrade, even if 2017’s dip wasn’t just a blip.
Nightengale says that for the Giants to take on Longoria, the Rays would have to take on a high salary veteran such as Denard Span or Hunter Pence. Span is owed $9 million in 2018, with a $4 million buyout on a $12 million option for 2019. Pence is owed $18.5 million in 2018 in the final year of his contract and has a full no-trade clause.
If he stays with the Rays, Longoria will achieve 10-5 rights — full no-trade protection due to being a ten-year veteran with five years of service on the same club — so if the Rays are going to move him, it’ll be much easier this offseason, not once the 2018 season begins.