MIAMI -- Unable to sign a big-ticket closer, the Marlins redirected and landed an established reliever accustomed to high-leverage situations. On Thursday night, Miami reached agreement with former Red Sox right-hander Junichi Tazawa on a two-year contract.MLB.com confirmed the deal is worth $12 million, and it is pending Tazawa completing his physical exam. The club has not commented. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal was first to report the agreement.
The Marlins noted at the Winter Meetings that Tazawa was a free-agent target, and negotiations picked up in recent days. The 30-year-old will earn $5 million in 2017 and $7 million in '18.Once the signing is official, Tazawa will be the second Japanese player ever to sign with the Marlins. He joins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who is entering his third season with the organization.Tazawa, who broke in with the Red Sox in 2009, went 3-2 with a 4.17 ERA this past season. In 53 appearances, he had 54 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings.The Marlins have devoted much of their offseason attention on depth for the back of the bullpen. They made a strong push for the top two free-agent closers, but came up short as Aroldis Chapman signed with the Yankees, and Kenley Jansen returned to the Dodgers.Tazawa gives Miami more depth in the late innings. In his career, he's appeared in 302 games, and has 308 strikeouts in 312 innings. Tazawa's four-seam fastball velocity, per Statcast™, was 93.27 mph in 2016, which was slightly above the MLB average of 93.04.The Tazawa agreement comes on the same day that former Marlins left-hander Mike Dunn signed with the Rockies. Miami could open 2017 with a bullpen that doesn't have a lefty.The way it's shaping up, the Marlins have A.J. Ramos closing, with Kyle Barraclough and Tazawa as options for the seventh and eighth innings. David Phelps is an option to work any of the late innings, and perhaps even close if Ramos is not available.Dustin McGowan, who re-signed with the Marlins on Monday, is a long-relief candidate.The Marlins continue to monitor the reliever market. Among their multi-inning candidates are Trevor Cahill and Joe Blanton.Joe Frisaro/MLB.com