Shunsuke Watanabe Rumors

Minor Moves: Watanabe, Poythress, Laffey, Berger

We'll round up today's minor moves here:

Red Sox Sign Watanabe, Release Carpenter

The Red Sox announced that they have signed Japanese right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe to a minor league contract.  Boston also disclosed that they have released the contract of right-hander Chris Carpenter to the Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in exchange for cash.

Watanabe, 37, is a sidearmer who boasts one of the lowest deliveries in professional baseball.  While his pitches top out around 70 MPH, his tricky delivery has frustrated hitters across 13 seasons with the NPB's Chiba Lotte Marines.  For his career in Japan, Watanabe has posted a 3.65 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

Carpenter, who came over in the Theo Epstein compensation deal with the Cubs along with fellow right-hander Aaron Kurcz, saw eight big league games with Boston in 2012 and spent the bulk of 2013 with the club's Triple-A affiliate.   

AL East Rumors: Drew, Balfour, Orioles, Red Sox

The Red Sox haven't made a formal offer to shortstop Stephen Drew, a source tells Rob Bradford of Per multiple sources, the Red Sox’ strategy continues to be to wait for Drew to find what his market might result in before looping back in with him.  Here's more out of the AL East..

  • The Orioles have a two-year offer out to Grant Balfour, tweets Roch Kubatko of  Earlier today, Jon Heyman of reported that the O's have an offer out to the reliever.
  • A report from Japanese outlet Sponichi (Japanese link) indicates that submariner Shunsuke Watanabe is expected to sign a minor league deal with the Red Sox.  Special thanks to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker for posting the report along via Twitter.
  • The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Thad Weber has been granted his release and has signed a contract with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization.  The club now has 39 players on the 40-man roster.

International Links: Posting System, Bello, Watanabe

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are still trying to come to an agreement on changes to the posting system for Japanese players, but that agreement could be "several weeks away," writes George A. King III of the New York Post. Under the previous system, Japanese teams could've begun posting players on Nov. 1, making the restructuring a significantly negative impact for teams targeting Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka this winter. With Tanaka expected to command such a large financial commitment, teams stand to benefit from knowing sooner rather than later whether or not they have a chance to land him. Here are a few more notes from the international market…

  • Independent league right-hander Hideyoshi Ohtake has a tryout with the Red Sox, according to a report from Yahoo Japan passed along by Patrick Newman of NPBTracker (via Twitter).  Ohtake's fastball reaches 94 mph on the radar gun.
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith of reports that 15-20 teams scouted Cuban catcher Yenier Bello's showcase earlier this week. Bello took batting practice and gave teams a glimpse of his work behind the plate, including making throws to second base and third base.
  • Also at that showcase, writes Nicholson-Smith, were right-hander Rogelio Armenteros and first baseman Jozzen Cuesta. Armenteros threw for scouts and topped 90 mph with his heater. The pair of Cuban prospects is represented by the Wasserman Media Group.
  • Side-armer Shunsuke Watanabe is going to try to make the jump to Major League Baseball at age 37, according to an Asahi report passed on by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman. Watanbe's delivery is one of the lowest to the ground in pro baseball, Newman notes (his second tweet includes a video), but his pitches top out around 70 mph (Twitter links). Watanabe has spent 13 season with NPB's Chiba Lotte Marines, totaling a 3.65 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Despite his unorthodox delivery, he's spent nearly his entire career as a starting pitcher.