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Report: Red Sox among teams interested in Japanese lefty Imanaga

Megan Briggs / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Boston Red Sox appear to be looking overseas for starting pitching help.

Boston is one of several teams interested in veteran Japanese left-hander Shota Imanaga, who was posted by NPB's Yokohama DeNa BayStars for a move to MLB last month, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports.

While not at the level of fellow NPB star Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who was also posted this winter and could land a record deal, Imanaga has his own stellar resume. The 30-year-old tallied a Central League-leading 174 strikeouts for Yokohama in 2023 while walking only 24 batters in 148 innings. He posted the same walk rate (1.5 BB/9) as Yamamoto and had a better K/9 (10.6).

Imanaga put up a 3.18 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 1,021 strikeouts across eight seasons with the BayStars. The 5-foot-10 southpaw also threw a no-hitter in 2022 and started this year's WBC final for Japan against the United States.

Imanaga's posting period expires on Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. ET. If he doesn't sign with an MLB team by then, his rights will return to the BayStars.

He'd add a second veteran lefty to Boston's rotation, which ranked 22nd in total production last year, behind Chris Sale while also lengthening the team's depth. Imanaga's presence could allow Nick Pivetta to move to the bullpen full time, a role he excelled in last year after a midseason switch.

The Red Sox are also thought to be among the teams chasing Yamamoto, the three-time reigning Eiji Sawamura Award (Japan's Cy Young equivalent) winner. Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow refused to answer questions about Boston's potential involvement in the Yamamoto sweepstakes Wednesday, according to Chad Jennings and Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic.

Boston also apparently had some interest in a reunion with Eduardo Rodriguez before he reportedly inked a four-year, $80-million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Heyman reported.

Starting pitching isn't Boston's only area of need this winter. The team has an opening in left field after trading Alex Verdugo to the New York Yankees on Tuesday and is interested in former D-Backs All-Star Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as a potential replacement, Jon Morosi of reported Tuesday.

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