Ex-Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, 40, signs deal to play in 2021

Darren Hartwell
·2 min read

Dice-K is still playing? Ex-Red Sox pitcher signs deal for 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Why not close out 2020 with some more unexpected news?

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has signed a one-year contract with the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Pacific League of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball, per the Japan Times.

To be clear, Matsuzaka is joining the Lions to pitch in 2021 despite turning 40 in September.

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"I’m thankful they offered me a new contract,” Matsuzaka said, via the Japan Times. "I’ll aim to win at (Seibu home stadium) MetLife Dome next year and pay back the club and fans."

Matsuzaka began his professional baseball career with the Lions in 1999 and pitched for Seibu for seven seasons before joining the Red Sox in December 2006 on a six-year, $52 million contract.

Boston also paid a whopping $51.1 million for Matsuzaka's bidding rights. "Dice-K" was a solid starter for Boston -- he logged over 200 innings in 2007 to help the club win a World Series title and posted a 4.52 ERA over six seasons -- but never quite lived up to his massive hype.

Matsuzaka's baseball career is still going strong nearly a decade after his 2012 departure from the Red Sox, however. He returned to Japan in 2014 after a two-year stint with the New York Mets and has been there ever since, earning the NPB's "Best Comeback Prize" during an All-Star campaign in 2018.

Matsuzaka joins Manny Ramirez among alumni of that 2007 Red Sox team who are remarkably still playing; Ramirez signed a deal with the Australian Baseball League earlier this year.