The Red Sox have signed RHP Junichi Tazawa to a 1 year deal, worth $3.375 million. In doing so, the Sox have avoided arbitration with the righty and at a much cheaper price than his worth. Tazawa has posted a 14-18 record with a 3.47 ERA over his first six seasons with the Sox.
Taz took a major step back last season, as he posted career-worsts in losses (7) and in ERA (4.14). But he was a bright spot in a below-average bullpen in 2014, with a 4-3 record and a 2.86 ERA and as recent as 2012, he was 1-1 with a 1.43 ERA.
There is no question that the talent is there, it's just about his usage. There were times last year where he was pitching 3-4 days in a row, and throwing north of 15-20 pitches per appearance and even going multiple innings at times. That's just too many pitches and innings in between rest days and can lead to a guy running out of gas. That certainly happened to Tazawa.
It's almost uncharacteristic of him to pitch poorly. He's got a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a devastating splitter, making it almost impossible to hit. To see him pitch awfully, you just knew something wasn't right. And Lovullo and Dave made the right call by shutting him down.
Tazawa will likely see a decrease in innings, if not, at least the demand to have him pitch will be decreased since Carson Smith will be added to this pen. That should lead to an increase in not only his durability in the later stages of the season, but also in his production.
This deal is low-risk/high-reward. You have to think that, if Taz regains form, that the $3.375 million is a steal for a guy of his caliber. If he can't, at least he isn't getting paid big money to underachieve.