While signing a Japanese player is not uncommon, signing one who pitches the way he does isn't common:
According to the press release:
Watanabe, 37, has spent his entire 13-year career (2001-13) with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league. Primarily a starter, the submarine-style pitcher has posted a career record of 87-82 with a 3.65 ERA (640 ER/1578.1 IP), and 846 strikeouts in 255 games (240 starts).
When he does report to camp, Watanabe will work as a reliever.
Here's what the Twitter world is saying about him:
Shunske Watanabe, 37, a submarine style RHP from the Chibba Lotte Marines, may be one of those under-the-radar signings by Ben Cherington,— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 18, 2013
Watanabe goes lower than Chad Bradford when he’s on the mound. here’s a great shot from the World Baseball Classic: http://t.co/iOXBF9O7Xk— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) December 18, 2013
While it's tough to say whether Watanabe will earn a spot in the bullpen, his pitching style will give fans something to come see during spring training.
And if he can prove himself in spring training and in the minors, there's no reason to believe he won't be with the Red Sox by midseason.