Sawamura, 34, pitched in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball for ten years before crossing the Pacific. He signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox prior to the 2021 season and had a solid debut that season. He threw 53 innings with a 3.06 ERA, 26.2% strikeout rate and 51.8% ground ball rate, though a very worrisome 13.7% walk rate.
His performance took a bit of a downward turn here in 2022, however, with his ERA jumping up to 3.73 and his strikeout rate dropping to 18.1%. He was designated for assignment in August, later clearing waivers and being outrighted to Triple-A.
Sawamura’s contract guaranteed him $3MM with a $1.2MM salary both last year and this year, as well as a $600K buyout on a club option for 2023. That club option came with $3MM base but a series of escalators based on the number of appearances Sawamura made. If the club declined their option, Sawamura would then have a player option that also had a value tied to appearances. He had already pitched enough to get the player option up to $1.9MM and would have made it an even $2MM with one more game before he was cut from the roster.
When Sawamura was outrighted, it was reported that the option was still active. However, Sawamura will collect the $1MM buyout and head to free agency instead. He only made a single appearance in Triple-A between the outright and today’s release.