Red Sox Sign Okajima To One-Year Deal

The Red Sox signed left-hander Hideki Okajima to a one-year deal worth $1.75MM, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. The deal includes $550K in incentives and allows Okajima to become a free agent at the end of the 2011 season, Crasnick reports. (all Twitter links). The Pirates, Mets, Rays, Blue Jays and A’s all showed interest in the Joe Rosen client after the Red Sox non-tendered him in December.

Okajima, 35, has seen his performance decline in his four big league seasons. He followed up his 2.22 ERA as a rookie in 2007 with a 2.61 ERA in 2008 then a 3.39 ERA in 2009 and finally a 4.50 ERA in 2010. His strikeout rate was a career low 6.5 K/9 this past season while the walk rate was a career worst 3.9 BB/9. Okajima did miss time this summer with back stiffness, so perhaps that’s to blame.

The Red Sox have been in the market for a lefty reliever, and were recently said to have interest in Brian Fuentes. Although lefties hit .284/.357/.375 off Okajima in 2010, the funky southpaw has held them to a .217/.271/.320 batting line in his career.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement (via Twitter) and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe first reported that the two sides were close. 


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22 Comments on "Red Sox Sign Okajima To One-Year Deal"


went9
4 years 7 months ago

So who goes from the 40 man to make room for him?
Daniel Nava?
Robert Coello?

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

Probably one of Coello, Atchison, and Mark Wagner (4th catcher on 40 man roster).

went9
4 years 7 months ago

Weakest position in Boston is catcher so Wagner may stay for now as depth. Atchision had some value last year in mid leverage situations.

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

I agree that Atchison had some value last year as a replacement level player at replacement level cost (WAR of 0.0 last year), but right now he’s the odd man out in the pen and is out of options. As for catcher, Expositio could be called up mid-season if need be. While he isn’t as good defensively as Wagner, he isn’t a bad 4th option either and doesn’t currently need a spot on the 40 man roster.

went9
4 years 7 months ago

It’s Max Ramirez off the 40 man and already claimed by the Cubs.

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

Yeah, I saw it. So much for the catching depth argument eh?

Devern Hansack
4 years 7 months ago

Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford.

flickadave
4 years 7 months ago

Not Lackey or Beckett?

flickadave
4 years 7 months ago

Not Lackey or Beckett?

RedSoxDynasty
4 years 7 months ago

MAX RAMIREZ?

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

Not a huge overpay, but an overpay for someone who’s been trending down every year. I won’t be surprised if he’s gone by mid-season to a NL team where his deception will be more effective for a little while.

0bsessions
4 years 7 months ago

Should’ve gone to the Mets or at least the A’s. Okajima’s problem seems less to do with his back and more to do with the fact he lived off of his funky delivery. His steadily declining numbers through the years are indicative, to me, of people just figuring it out. A change of scenery to an NL team or at least another division would likely have served him well on a one year deal where his deceptive delivery would baffle a new set of opponents for a while.

went9
4 years 7 months ago

Can you even believe that Gonzalez and Crawford are working out right now with Red Sox gear on? It’s unbelievable.

How about offering Devern Hansack a minor league deal for one more chance at the bigs?

Oilcanoworms
4 years 7 months ago

I still like Okajima. I know it’s probably not logical, but I think he’ll be better this year.

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

When he came back from the DL, he was pitching against September call ups, not everyday major leaguers.

Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 7 months ago

Not to mention his odd home/road ERA splits (2.77 at home, 6.75 on the road)

Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 7 months ago

Not to mention his odd home/road ERA splits (2.77 at home, 6.75 on the road)

RedSoxDynasty
4 years 7 months ago

Trolls will hate!

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

If you’ve read any of my posts, you would know that I’m not a troll. I’m stating facts, that’s all. When he came back he had 1 outing prior to September call ups, and then the rest of his outings were against expanded rosters. The only impressive outings he had after coming back were against the Rays on Sept 6th and 8th. The other teams he did well against were the O’s, White Sox, Mariners, A’s (1 game), and Blue Jays (only 1 game but 2 innings). His 2 outings where he allowed runs were against the Yanks. Over those 2 games he allowed 2 ER on 3 H’s with 2 BB’s and 0 K’s in 1.1 IP. Overall facing the Yanks he gave up 2 ER 4 H’s 3 BB’s and 2 K’s in 2.2 IP (I initially missed his outing against them in October) for an ERA over 6..

Those are the facts, he pitched well against teams that weren’t playing for anything and had expanded rosters. His numbers against good teams playing for something (Yanks and Rays) were 2 ER’s, 5 H’s, 4 BB’s 3 K’s in 4.2 IP. Giving him an ERA of 3.86, which is still greater than any other season in his career, so even using that sample, he is trending downward.

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

Yes, everyone is playing for something, the only difference is what the emphasis is on at that point during the season. For teams out of contention, they are playing to learn more about how their kids will perform and develop. This is a different level of competition than teams playing their MLB starters fighting for a playoff spot.

And yes, I know that 4.2 innings is an insanely small sample size, I was going to use his 46 inning sample size, but you said that it was irrelevant.

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

Right, no doubt they do. However, the level of competition also impacts the performance of a player. If you are ok with including his innings pre-DL then I’m fine with thinking that the generally weak competition he faced post-DL offsets the hindrance of the injury. In that case he had a 4.50 ERA with all of his peripherals still trending down each of the last 4 years.

What I would be curious to see is his pitch fx post-DL vs. pre-DL. I think that would tell us a lot more about if his numbers were because of injury, level of competition, or decline.

RahZid
4 years 7 months ago

Marte was good and trending well until he had TJ, totally different circumstances. The Yankees needed a lefty specialist, especially with Boston in their division. Is 4.4M an overpay for a specialist, yeah it is. Just because the relief market blew up this year, does mean that a bad deal is better, either the player will be worth their contract or not. Change the subject slightly for a second, was Crawford an overpay? Sure he was, but I’m glad to see him in a Red Sox uniform, he filled a huge need (at least for 2012 and beyond) and with an inflated marketplace (thanks Nats) the Sox FO paid what they had to in order to get Crawford. Hopefully Crawford will improve entering his prime years, and hopefully leaving the turf will help him age better than he would have at the Trop.

To relate that back to the original point, I’m fine with an overpay when it fills a team need so long as there is budget for it (which there clearly is in the cases of the Sox and Yanks), but we didn’t need Oki back. Between Miller, Hill, and Doubront we were already set for Lefty relievers (although it is nice to see Doubront starting in AAA as depth).

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, he only needs to be worth about 0.4 WAR to be worth his contract, which is slightly worse than his 2009 season. What really bugs me is that he also costs the Sox Max Ramirez (I can only assume they tried to work with him and saw something they didn’t like).

Random thought that didn’t really fit in anywhere: The most alarming thing for me about Oki last year is that his line drive rate jumped 7.5%. His BABIP suggests that he was unlucky to a degree, but I’m not sure how much of the BABIP swing was caused by the sharp increase in liners. Either way, he should normalize somewhat over a full 2011. The only real question left is will he have a full 2011 or will he be moved to make room for Hill or Miller.