The Red Sox have another Japanese pitcher in their sights according to Alex Speier, who has a major league source confirming Japanese reports that the team met with high-school flamethrower Shohei Otani Thursday.
A sizable 6'4" at 18 years old with a fastball that's hit triple digits, Otani has drawn interest from a number of American teams, including the Rangers, Dodgers, and now the Red Sox. As he has not played in NPB, he would be available to sign as an international free agent, without the posting fees associated with the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka.
The Sox, of course, have a mixed history with Japanese pitchers. On the one hand, Daisuke was a disaster, mitigated or not depending on who you ask. On the other hand, when going with lesser-known names like Hideki Okajima and Junichi Tazawa, the Sox have seen a solid return for their dollar. While the likes of Tazawa might not come with the same persuasive ability as, say, Yu Darvish (who apparently sent along an autographed baseball with the Rangers' delegation), the Sox can still point to some positive examples with players who spent time in the system.
Beyond that, though, the Sox have another advantage when it comes to the international free agent market: they were awful this year. The draft, after all, is not the only place where money is now restricted based on a team's position in the standings; under the new CBA, teams that finished lower in the standings can spend more money on international free agents without being penalized for it.
Otani is a long way off, and certainly doesn't come with the same sort of hype that surrounded the likes of Matsuzaka or Darvish, but more talent is always better.