NEW YORK – Right-handed reliever Junichi Tazawa was released by the Miami Marlins and will remain in the United States in a bid to land a minor-league contract, baseball sources said Tuesday.
The Marlins designated Tazawa for assignment on Thursday after a pair of dismal outings last week in a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In his 380th major league appearance on Thursday, he allowed three runs in the fourth inning of a 7-0 loss to fellow Japanese righty Kenta Maeda and the Dodgers. On Wednesday, he had allowed three runs in ⅓ of an inning in Miami’s 6-5 win.
Tazawa departed the National League club with a 9.00 ERA and a 1-1 record in 22 games this season, allowing 21 runs in 20 innings. In his major league career, he has gone 21-26 with a 4.16 ERA.
Tazawa spent eight seasons with the Boston Red Sox, missing the entire 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. He signed a two-year, $12 million deal with Miami before the 2017 season.
Unlike this year’s returnees Koji Uehara and Norichika Aoki, the 31-year-old Tazawa would have to sit out two seasons before becoming eligible to play in Nippon Professional Baseball.
He faces that hurdle because of a rule implemented by NPB owners in 2008 after Tazawa announced he would sign directly with a major league club as an amateur.
To prevent future top amateurs from following in Tazawa’s footsteps, NPB owners agreed to the “Tazawa Rule” that bans players who skip the draft in Japan and began their pro careers overseas. As an additional penalty, Tazawa has been banned from playing for Japan in the World Baseball Classic.