ARLINGTON -- Rangers officials are quietly acknowledging that they expect Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa to sign with the Boston Red Sox.
The Rangers have not publicly commented on their offer to Tazawa, but reports out of Japan suggest they were the highest bidders for the 22-year-old right-hander. That apparently won't be good enough to land Tazawa, who appears motivated to join Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima in Boston.
Tazawa spent 2008 as an amateur pitching for Nippon Oil. He is trying to become the first Japanese amateur player to avoid the draft in that country and go straight to North America.
The Rangers could still benefit from Tazawa landing in Boston. The Rangers and the Red Sox have had a number of trade talks this winter. The Red Sox are interested in the Rangers' extra catching while Texas wants pitching in return.
The Red Sox have made it clear that they aren't interested in trading Clay Buchholz under any circumstances. The Rangers still have interest in other Red Sox pitching -- including Justin Masterson and Michael Bowden -- but the two sides haven't been able to match up on a deal that would send either Taylor Teagarden or Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Boston.
If the Red Sox land Tazawa, as expected, it could make them more inclined to give up young pitching to acquire a catcher. Jason Varitek, their catcher for the past 11 seasons, is a free agent..
Pitcher Wes Littleton was designated for assignment last week and has drawn some interest from other clubs.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.