Hideki Okajima Rumors

Softbank Hawks Sign Hideki Okajima

The Softbank Hawks have signed Hideki Okajima, according to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The Hawks announced the Okajima signing at a press conference. Okajima is represented by Joe Rosen.

The 36-year-old lefty looked to be jumping from one division rival to another earlier this offseason when he signed with the Yankees, but a failed physical due to left shoulder concerns voided the deal. According to Newman, Okajima downplayed concerns over his shoulder and told reporters he is eager to "show what he did in America." This will mark Okajima's first season back in his native Japan since 2006. He's appeared in Boston's bullpen in each of the past five seasons, albeit very briefly in 2011.

Okajima has recorded a 3.11 ERA in 246 1/3 Major League innings, with a 7.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, and 36.8% groundball rate. His strikeouts have dipped heavily since the 2008 season, however, and in 2010 his control began eluding him as well. He walked five batters in just 8 1/3 innings in 2011 before being designated for assignment in May when the Sox acquired Franklin Morales. Okajima has earned a total of $7MM in his MLB career to date, according to Baseball Reference.

Okajima Fails Physical, Will Not Join Yankees

10:22pm: It was Okajima's left shoulder that raised a red flag for Yankees doctors, tweets David Waldstein of the New York Times.

10:38am: Left-hander Hideki Okajima has failed his physical with the Yankees, reports Waldstein (Twitter link).  This means the minor league contract Okajima and the Yankees agreed upon last December is now voided.

Okajima, 36, spent most of last season in the minors after the Red Sox designated him for assignment in May.  Okajima struggled the last two years after posting a sterling 2.72 ERA, an 8.3 K/9 rate and a 2.89 K/BB ratio in 198 games for Boston between 2007-09.

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.

Red Sox Notes: Francona, Epstein, Papi, Free Agents

It's been a tumultuous few weeks for the Red Sox and their fans, and this array of links can speak to that…

  • Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald writes that the ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino deserve some of the blame for Terry Francona's departure from Boston.
  • Boston's brass doesn't want to comment on the possibility of GM Theo Epstein winding up with the Cubs, says the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber, but until they address the situation or until Chicago hires someone, the potential is there.
  • Ken Rosenthal quotes a rival GM who says that when the Red Sox are in crisis mode, "all bets are off," meaning that they could conceivably let Epstein interview for the Cubs' position (Twitter link).
  • In a second tweet, Rosenthal relays a thought from another GM: what could Epstein fetch in return from the Cubs after the White Sox netted two minor leaguers for Ozzie Guillen?
  • Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe wonders if Epstein is the next to head through the Red Sox "spin cycle." Abraham discusses the possibility of Epstein going to the Cubs, and the intriguing possibility of him hiring Francona as his manager there.
  • In the same piece, Abraham notes that if Epstein were to leave the Red Sox, senior vice president and assistant GM Ben Cherington would be a logical replacement. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith looked at Cherington as a GM candidate back in August.
  • Still in Abraham's article, David Ortiz says he wants to return to the Red Sox in 2012 and beyond, and that Boston fans "don't deserve what we offered them."
  • Hideki Okajima, Drew Sutton, and Dennys Reyes, join yesterday's list of minor leaguers who officially declared free agency, according to Abraham.

Hideki Okajima Pondering Retirement

Reliever Hideki Okajima, currently pitching for Boston's Triple-A affiliate, says that his future beyond this season is up in the air, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal.  Okajima will consider his options, including retirement.

"I don't know what I'm going to be doing next season," Okajima said through an interpreter. "I might retire. I might go back to Japan. I might be over here again. I'm not really sure. I just have to see where the offseason takes me once I get there."

After being clearing waivers and accepting a Triple-A assignment in May, the veteran said that he would like to be traded.  In 34 appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox this season, Okajima has a 2.29 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.

Hideki Okajima Hopes For Trade

Red Sox lefty Hideki Okajima is hoping for a trade, he told Michael Vega of the Boston Globe.  Okajima has been pitching in Triple-A since clearing waivers on May 24th.  He told Vega through an interpreter he'd rather not be called up to the Red Sox following Rich Hill's injury.  Perhaps he didn't enjoy being used sparingly while in the bigs.

Okajima, 36, has excelled in eight Triple-A appearances this year.  It appears that the Red Sox explored the trade market for him a couple of weeks ago when he was designated for assignment, and found no takers.

Hideki Okajima Clears Waivers

Red Sox lefty Hideki Okajima cleared waivers and accepted a Triple-A assignment, tweets Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  Okajima had been designated for assignment on Thursday to clear a spot for Franklin Morales.

As WEEI's Alex Speier noted four days ago, Okajima has had a rough year but does not regret re-signing with the Red Sox in January.

Red Sox Notes: Millwood, Morales, Okajima

The Red Sox made a pair of moves yesterday and won again, boosting their record to a season-best 23-20. Here’s the latest on Boston as they prepare to take on the Cubs…

  • If recent signing Kevin Millwood reaches the Major Leagues, he’ll earn a pro-rated portion of $500K, plus incentives, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. In other words, he's guaranteed slightly more than the MLB minimum.
  • If the Rockies had sent Franklin Morales to the Pirates instead of the Red Sox, Colorado would have asked for a prospect rather than former Rockie Joe Beimel, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
  • The Red Sox designated Hideki Okajima for assignment to create roster space for Morales, but the Japanese left-hander says re-signing in Boston this offseason was not a mistake, according to Speier.

Red Sox Acquire Franklin Morales

The Red Sox have acquired Rockies left-hander Franklin Morales for a player to be named later or cash considerations, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (via Twitter).  In order to make room for Morales, Hideki Okajima has been designated for assignment by the BoSox.

Boston has until November to either agree on a player in the Morales trade or pay a nominal amount of money to the Rockies, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.

Morales was ranked as the eighth-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2008 season.  The left-hander throws the ball extremely hard as evidenced by his 94.4 mph fastball last year.  Across parts of five big league seasons, he owns a 4.83 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9.

The 25-year-old is out of options and the Rockies have reportedly been concerned about losing him to waivers.  Yesterday we learned that the Rockies were measuring trade interest in Morales as well as fellow fireballer Felipe Paulino

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) first reported that the two sides were close to an agreement while Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) reported that a deal was completed.

Red Sox Notes: Stanton, Okajima, Lineup

With apologies to the Dropkick Murphys, let's ship up to Boston for some news from the (presumptive) AL East favorites…

  • Mike Stanton hit two homers and drove in seven runs against the Red Sox today in Grapefruit League play, prompting WEEI.com's Alex Speier to recall how the Sox pursued Stanton two seasons ago.  When the Red Sox were trying to deal Manny Ramirez in 2008, they attempted to arrange a multi-team trade that would have seen both Stanton and Jason Bay end up in Boston.  The Marlins, however, weren't interested in dealing their young slugger.
  • Hideki Okajima isn't used to having to fight for a bullpen job, but the Japanese left-hander is determined to stay on the roster, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne.
  • Boston's regular lineup is heavy with left-handed hitters, but Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com thinks the offense will be potent enough to overcome the lefty-righty disparity.
  • Speaking of Edes, he took part in a fan chat on ESPN Boston today discussing such topics as Lars Anderson's trade value, whether the Red Sox may try to acquire a catcher, and the futures of both David Ortiz and Terry Francona in Boston.