Japanese pitcher flies to the US to negotiate with MLB teams: Could the New York Yankees be interested?

As the New York Yankees look to fill out their bullpen in preparation for the 2021 MLB season, they could use another cheap reliever to complement the top-four options (Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Darren O’Day) and the army of young, talented fireballers on the rosters, such as Ben Heller, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, Brooks Kriske, Albert Abreu, Clarke Schmidt, Mike King, Nick Nelson, and others.

A Japanese reliever from the Nippon Professional Baseball circuit recently became available, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Yankees to scout him further and consider him if the price is right.

Nikkan Sports is reporting that reliever Hirokazu Sawamura has taken a flight to the United States to negotiate with major league teams. Could the Yankees be interested in the right-hander?

It wouldn’t hurt the Yankees to inquire

Rotoworld writes that Sawamura “has been one of the better relievers in Japan the last several years, most recently posting a 1.71 ERA and 29/10 K/BB ratio over 21 innings for the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2020.”

The 32-year-old could potentially be a high-leverage reliever wherever he winds up. For the Yankees, though, he profiles better as a middle reliever given the quality of the Bombers’ bullpen.

The Japan Times recently quoted him as saying that “the majors are also among my options if I consider all 42 teams in Japan and the United States.” He said during an interview at Zozo Marine Stadium, the Pacific League club’s home field. “I want to throw for the team that wants me the most.”

According to the Japan Times, Sawamura, who could make sense for the New York Yankees if they can sign him and stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, transitioned from starter to reliever in 2015 and led the league in saves in 2016 as the Giants’ closer.