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.