Yankees To Sign Hideki Okajima

The Yankees agreed to a minor league deal with reliever Hideki Okajima, tweets David Waldstein of the New York Times.  Earlier, Sports Hochi in Japan reported talks between the two parties were in the final stages and a deal could be reached shortly after the new year (as translated by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman).

Okajima, 36, has a 3.11 ERA across 246 1/3 big league innings, all with the Red Sox from 2007-11.  He spent most of 2011 at Triple-A, posting a 2.29 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, and 0.53 HR/9 in 51 innings.  As you'd expect, Okajima has been better against lefties in the Majors, with a 8.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.67 HR/9, and 3.87 xFIP across 107 1/3 innings per FanGraphs.


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49 Comments on "Yankees To Sign Hideki Okajima"


3 years 8 months ago

I…didn’t see this coming.

3 years 8 months ago

Wow…

Vmmercan
3 years 8 months ago

This feels dirty somehow, but there is literally no risk.

3 years 8 months ago

Take Dice-K next please.

MB923
3 years 8 months ago

Except he’s not a FA lol. And I assure you we are not seeing any Yankees/Red Sox trade anytime soon.

Jab
3 years 8 months ago

He means next year.

3 years 8 months ago

3 years 8 months ago

Watch out for dem yankees.

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

He’ll get absolutely destroyed if he hits their MLB roster, but there’s not much risk here.

I’m honestly shocked he’d pitch there, though. Considering he got by on a deceptive delivery, I figured he’d go as far away from batters who saw him regularly as possible, maybe try the NL West for a couple years.

MB923
3 years 8 months ago

Lefty specialist, and he has good numbers against lefties as shown by Tim but I don’t see him matching his all star season when he was a rookie. We shall see if he makes the roster.  2011 he was bad but only pitched 7 games, 2010 below average though. Low risk, and maybe a medium reward at best I’d say.

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

As noted, he got by heavily on a really weird delivery his first few years. His numbers have steadily deteriorated as time has gone on. He’s not even what I’d consider viable as a lefty specialist (Lefties still got on base at a pace of better than .350 on him in 2010), but god help the man who pitches him against a righty (.936 OPS in 2010 for righties).

Low risk, low reward is accurate. On a minor league deal, it makes sense for the Yankees, but I don’t see how it makes any sense for Okajima other than the novelty of pitching for the Yankees. He’d be better off out west in the NL, where he’d be facing batters who’ve never seen him.

MB923
3 years 8 months ago

I edited it actually and put low risk and a medium reward at best. 

johnsilver
3 years 8 months ago

Yes.. He really should have gone over to the NL and tried his delivery there for another year or 2 in order to extend his career, cause this is no Sparky Lyle type LH reliever Boston gives the NYY who will come back and haunt them for years.

Unless he gains 3-4mph on his fb, comes up with some other funky delivery, or finds another out pitch along the line, he will be cannon fodder as you so nicely put it if/whenever is called up..

Oilcanoworms
3 years 8 months ago

You’re probably right. I still like old Oki though.

YanksFanSince78
3 years 8 months ago

Dude had 1 bad year (2010). Not exactly Sidney Ponson-ish. IF he were to make the roster he certainly would be limited to being a lefty specialist. Even in his worst year (2010) his FIP vs lefties was a “respectable” 4.10. Far, far, far away from being shutdown but he had a really high BaBIP that year of .344 which is 70 points higher than his career norms. Maybe 2010 was just a blip in his career? Either way, small risk. We’ll see how it works.

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

His 2009 wasn’t too hot either. Minimal risk and I don’t see any real downside to it as a signing for the Yankees, but the odds are really bad of him doing anything for the big league club this year. He’s 36 now and his numbers have been trending in the wrong direction since that first stellar year. He’s a warm body in case of emergency.

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

Also of note, good luck maintaining that feeling of “Yankee Mystique” while Oki Doki is playing on the stadium speaker system.

johnsilver
3 years 8 months ago

It is kind of funny to watch him playing with that paddle like arm exerciser in the BP he flips back and forth with his left wrist super fast for minutes at a time.

Anyone who has ever seen this has got to be amazed he can do it so fast and for so long, flipping that wooden appearing paddle like that back and forth.

MikhelB
3 years 8 months ago

Surely hearing “Melancon” and “Aceves” over Fenway’s speaker system is no better…

Oilcanoworms
3 years 8 months ago

I always liked this guy. He was great for us for a while, but even after they shipped him to triple A I never quite understood why… he seemed more solid than several of the guys on the roster.

3 years 8 months ago

Didn’t see that coming.

dc21892
3 years 8 months ago

Well, thanks Oki for the good times you had in Boston. Best of luck going forward.

RedSox69
3 years 8 months ago

Agree with you…best of luck even if it’s for the yankees…but not against the Sox..

whosurpapa
3 years 8 months ago

Yes Oki pitched the Sox out of many jams during his stay. I really think he got burnt out from over use.

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

His IP decreased every year past his first season, so overuse is extremely unlikely. More likely is the fact people eventually got used to his odd delivery and he never had great “stuff” to begin with. Basically, the league figured him out and he was too old to really do anything about it (His rookie MLB season was at age 31, about the time most MLB relievers fall apart).

MikhelB
3 years 8 months ago

It is not his “funky delivery” what fooled opposing batters, check on his velocity stats, he began with a 12 MPH difference between his fastest pitch and his slowest pitch, which later decreased when his curveball acquired more velocity and spin, but unfortunately for him, it began to ‘break’ less and less, diminishing the posibility of ‘swings-and-misses’ with his curveball, though he balanced it pretty good with his other pitches.

If he manages to drop his velocity a bit, and increase the velocity differential between his fastball (currently it has lost 0.8 MPH since 2007, sitting at almost 87 mph) and his curveball, he can be succesful, that is because he also has a split finger pitch good enough to keep on fooling opposing batters.

And yeah, it works, it is called old-school pitching, Greg Maddux always worked in that 12 mph threshold during his last 10 years in the majors (fastball at 85 mph, curve at 73 mph and a nasty changeup sitting in between those other two pitches); all you need is to work with what you have and not with what you had, though in his favour is the fact that he has not lost any velocity (the drop is negligible).

John Pinto
3 years 8 months ago

Stunned.  Another bottom of the barrel pitcher.  George is flipping in his grave.

YanksFanSince78
3 years 8 months ago

yeah that game plan sucked last year.

garcia and his 4.12 FIP
colon and his 3.83 FIP (and why more ppl including the Yanks aren’t trying to bring him back in 2012 boggles my mind).
cory wade and his 2.04 ERA/3.76 FIP
luis ayala and his 2.09 ERA/4.19 FIP
russell martin and his 17 hrs and 3.1 WAR
andru jones and his .851 OPS and 13 hrs

Even Eric Chavez helped a lot with some hits off the bench and some good defense at 3b.

Not saying Oki will amount to much but moves like this make tons of sense.

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago


and why more ppl including the Yanks aren’t trying to bring him back in 2012 boggles my mind”

Because his 2011 IP total was practically in the neighborhood of his entire body of work from 2007 on. The Yankees were lucky to get what they did out of him in 2011, bringing Garcia back’s risky, bringing back Colon is bordering on nuts. His 2011 defied conventional odds, banking on him repeating in 2012 would be insane. Unless he’s willing to take another Minor League deal (Which he quite possibly isn’t), buyer beware.

YanksFanSince78
3 years 8 months ago

Your logic doesn’t add up. So because his innings total was around 150 IP then he’s no good for 2012?
Obviously last year he burned out because his arm was tired. What’s the risk in bringing him back on a 1/$2 or $3 mil deal? His arm is practically brand new from his stem cell procedure. not saying he should be counted on for 200 innings or a 3.50 FIP but he can certainly be a good #5 option for a team. 

0bsessions
3 years 8 months ago

His arm is improved, stem cells don’t give you a “brand new” arm, otherwise everyone would be doing this procedure. It’s a new, experimental procedure and he almost pitched more innings in 2011 than he did from 2007-2010. That is the text book definition of a red flag. Giving him a guaranteed contract at this point would be nuts, especially for the Yankees who are apparently trying to get closer to the luxury tax. It turns out, they DO have a budget and locking up $4 millionish (What it’d cost in luxury tax penalty) for a guy who’s got as many question marks would be crazy. And that’s just all based off of the injury risks and ignoring the fact that Colon was also playing over his head. The guy only topped last year’s FIP three times in a fourteen year career. A player putting up career year numbers at 38 is an aberration on its own, bringing him back on a guaranteed deal at his age with his recent injury history is a bad move for ANY team, even as a fifth starter.

MikhelB
3 years 8 months ago

You clearly don’t understand how stem cell treatment works nor why it is being considered to be banned.

But then again, your “logic” is always way off.

sdsny
3 years 8 months ago

Colon burned out big time at the end of the year.  What he did in 2011 was unbelievable, no doubt.  But he couldn’t keep it up.  That, coupled with his age and his weight are making teams shy away from him.

YanksFanSince78
3 years 8 months ago

If anything, he burned out because he had thrown so many innings between winter ball, spring training and the 150 during the season. And those winterball and ST innings weren’t your usual “staying shape” type of innings. They were “trying to impress the scouts” type innings. 

As for his burnout, keep in mind his hamstring injury and the fact that he posted a 4.95 and 4.39 FIP for August-Sept/Oct. Those are respectable for a #5 type.

Fritz
3 years 8 months ago

Wow. You have no idea about baseball business.

John Pinto
3 years 8 months ago

I’m stunned by the signing, no risk but here we go again, signing another bottom of the barrel pitcher.

thevoiceofbv
3 years 8 months ago

Not the worst move. We were already warned that Cashman would be bringing in “warm bodies” just like last year. I’m probably mistaken, but the only one that failed last year was Ron Belliard….

shortking98
3 years 8 months ago

He seems like more of a warm body reliever type at this point but on a minor league deal isn’t that all you’re really looking for?

shysox
3 years 8 months ago

I hope he gets rid of that weird orange glove.

MikhelB
3 years 8 months ago

He has to, being with the NYY the comissioner’s office won’t turn a blind eye to that.

Vmmercan
3 years 8 months ago

Btw, for people who wonder why the Yankees catch so much press on ESPN and other media outlets…..This story has 30+ comments for the Yankees signing a 36 year old lefty reliever to a minor league deal. Go check some of the stories not involving NY/Boston/Phil and see how much feedback it receives.

sparkyII
3 years 8 months ago

Hey pal , this story  isn’t a compliment, they are making fun of the yanks and that makes 31+

Vmmercan
3 years 8 months ago

Yeah, and making fun of their quiet offseason worked so well last year when they won the East anyway…..And that’s exactly my point. They attract the biggest fanbase and the biggest hatred presence. Hence why they get so much coverage. The Sox are similar. You can’t say that about a team like the Indians. Some people legitimately could just care less. Complacency is what kills ratings, not hatred.

Johnny S.
3 years 8 months ago

Awesome, I really hated him on the Sox, so him becoming a Yankee, this could be the start of something real good….

chee1rs
3 years 8 months ago

Maybe the Yankees will sign Dice-K as well in another year or so

redsx968
3 years 8 months ago

When?

Ben_Cherington
3 years 8 months ago

he means next year

levendis
3 years 8 months ago

its a minor league deal, and he has 5 years of experience in the AL east. He probably doesnt even make the roster, Rule 5 pick Cesar Cabral is doing very well in the Dominican. Whats the worst that can happen? they waste a couple $100,000? thats pocket change for them, relax buddy. 

MikhelB
3 years 8 months ago

They don’t took Aceves, the Yankees have never been too high on Mexican players, they only use them for one or two years and don’t bring them back even if they had good numbers. The only one that lasted more in the past 30 years is Ramiro Peña, but all the rest are long gone (Ayala looks like it won’t be re signed by the Yankees):

Jorge Vázquez = impressive power numbers and won’t be promoted so he has asked to be traded (has not been made public but… I have my contacts here with my fellow baseball writers LOL);
Aceves = One year;
Hairston = One year;
Karim García = One year;
Acevedo = One year;
Antonio Osuna = One year;
Loaiza = One year;
Erubiel Durazo = One year and wasn’t even called up from AAA;

And you can go on and on with the list, including people like Aurelio Rodríguez (traded to the BJays in 1981 when he was hitting 0.346, in exchange for a nobody from the minors who never made it to the big leagues) and Alfonso Pulido.

So… the future doesn’t look too promising for Manuel Bañuelos nor the other two kids switch pitchers the yanks signed off of the Veracruz League in México.