Free-agent right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe said Sunday that he has signed a minor league contract with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
The 37-year-old former Lotte Marines submariner traveled to the United States on Thursday. He scouted the facilities in Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket in Rhode Island before putting pen to paper on the contract, which does not include an invitation to spring training.
Watanabe will be guaranteed to throw in four exhibition games in the spring, however, and could join fellow Japanese pitchers Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa at Fenway Park next season if all goes well.
"I signed in the locker room in Boston," Watanabe said at Narita international airport upon his return. "Everything feels new. I'm really excited about this latest challenge."
"I was prepared to start from the minors all long. I was worried I might not be able to sign with anyone, but now I have an opportunity to take a shot at the majors."
Watanabe was a member of Japan's World Baseball Classic-winning teams in 2006 and 2009. He was 87-82 with a 3.65 ERA in 13 seasons with the Marines.