Shohei Ohtani has his pick for multiple destinations, and if he chooses the Red Sox, he’ll be part of a nearly two-decade-long history of Japanese players in Boston.

The history of Fenway Park often is marvelled by opposing players, including Ohtani, who theoretically would dominate if he played in Fenway full-time. Ohtani is the most coveted free agent in the market, and if he’s interested in making more history, he could consider Boston his new home.

Here’s a look back every Japanese player who has put on a Boston uniform.

Tomokazu Ohka (1999-2001)
Ohka began his Red Sox tenure in the minors following his career with the Yokohama BayStars in Japan’s Central League. He posted strong numbers in the minors and was in the All-Star Futures Game in 1999 and 2000. The right-hander became the first Japanese player to pitch for Boston in 1999 and was traded to the Montreal Expos during the 2001 season.

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Hideo Nomo (2001)
Following the success of his Nippon Professional Baseball career, Nomo made the jump to MLB. He often is credited as the player who opened doors for Japanese players in MLB, and he made an immediate impact with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning National League Rookie of the Year and winning the strikeout title along with an All-Star appearance in 1995. Nomo signed with the Red Sox in 2001 and threw a no-hitter in his debut against the Baltimore Orioles. He remains the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Oriole Park, and at the time, he was the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Dave Morehead in 1965. Nomo became the fourth player to throw a no-hitter in both leagues, and he again led MLB in strikeouts.

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Hideki Okajima (2007-2011)
After winning five Japan Series titles, Okajima signed with Boston but didn’t gain as much fanfare as another player who we’ll get to on this list. The left-hander’s MLB career didn’t get off on the right foot when John Buck of the Kansas City Royals hit a home run off the first pitch he saw from Okajima, which made it the 11th time in MLB history a player gave up a homer off their first pitch. However, Okajima was dominant for the majority of 2007, especially when he became the primary set-up man for Jonathan Papelbon. He was named to the 2007 All-Star Game, and he became the first Japanese-born pitcher to play in the World Series when he appeared in Game 2.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (2007-2012)
The Red Sox outbid the Texas Rangers, New York Mets and New York Yankees for the right to sign Matsuzaka, who was represented by Scott Boras. Theo Epstein and the front office’s long pursuit to sign the right-hander. That combined for a lot of hype around the 2001 Eiji Sawamura Award, which is the NPB equivalent to the Cy Young. Matsuzaka went through his ups and downs and in Boston, but he stepped up in Game 3 of the World Series, where he recorded his first major league hit and became the third Red Sox pitcher to record two or more RBIs in a World Series game. Matsuzaka also was the first Japanese pitcher to start and win a World Series game.

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Takashi Saito (2009)
Saito arrived in Boston after a three-year stint with the Dodgers. The right-hander was a serviceable reliever with 2.43 ERA in 55 2/3 innings.

Junichi Tazawa (2009-2016)
Tazawa was the first Japanese player to not start his career in NPB. He struggled with injuries early in his career but his first career start in 2009 made him the second youngest Japanese pitcher to start in a major league game. His success came as a reliever when he became a closer and later the primary set-up man to the next man on this list: Koji Uehara. The three-man relief unit of Craig Breslow, Tazawa and Uehara played a key part in Boston’s 2013 World Series run.

Koji Uehara (2013-16)
Similar to Tazawa, Uehara struggled with injuries at the start of his MLB career. But Boston was able to buy low, and after Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan went down with injuries, his transition into a closer made him a fan favorite. His 0.57 WHIP in 74 1/3 innings set a record for any pitcher who threw over 50 innings He retired a franchise record 37 consecutive batters from July to early September, and he was FanGraph’s most valuable reliever at 3.1 WAR. He earned American League Championship Series MVP honors and helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013, and he was named to the All-Star Game in 2014.

Hirokazu Sawamura (2021-22)
Sawamura had a fine 2021 season with Boston. He made 55 relief appearances for Boston, compiling a 5–1 record with a 3.06 ERA while striking out 61 batters in 53 innings. He made three appearances in the ALCS where he allowed one run in two innings.

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Masataka Yoshida (2023-present)
Yoshida had a strong freshman campaign for Boston in his first MLB season. He had a 109 OPS+ and hit 15 home runs while collecting 72 RBIs. The 30-year-old finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting and was valuable for his ability to get on base.

Featured image via Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports Images