Hideki Okajima Rumors

AL East Links: Okajima, Crawford, Sisco

On this date last year, the Yankees signed Chan Ho Park. After surrendering seven homers in 35 1/3 innings of 5.60 ERA ball, the Yankees cut Park loose. He joined the Pirates for the rest of 2010 and will spend the 2011 season pitching for the Orix Buffaloes. Here's the latest from the AL East:

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. 

Odds & Ends: Greinke, Young, Rangers, MacLane

Links for Sunday….

  • SI.com's Jon Heyman says the "word is" that the Nationals offered Zack Greinke a big contract extension in an effort to entice him to join their team (Twitter links). He simply didn't believe the Nats could win, so he instead waived his no-trade clause to go to the Brewers. 
  • A source told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Rangers and Rockies have not had any serious talks about Michael Young in the last week, so if he does get traded, it will likely be to a team that did not show much interest in him at the Winter Meetings (Twitter links). 
  • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News offers a "semi-educated guess" that if the Rangers do sign Adrian Beltre, they'll shift Young to a DH/utility role rather than trade him (Twitter link).
  • NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman passes along a Japanese report that has the Orix Buffaloes set to acquire Evan MacLane from the Cardinals. An official announcement is expected soon.
  • Cole Hamels and the Phillies haven't yet begun discussions for a multiyear extension, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted when he examined the Phillies' four aces, Hamels is arbitration eligible after next season and can become a free agent after 2012.
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider required) shares a list of 36 potential MLB storylines for 2011. Olney's list includes the Albert Pujols negotiations, Heath Bell trade talks, and C.C. Sabathia's out clause.
  • The Jason Bartlett trade potentially opened up a spot on the 25-man roster for long-time Rays' farmhand Elliot Johnson, according to Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times.
  • WEEI's Rob Bradford and Alex Speier attempt to determine whether Hideki Okajima is likely to rebound for the Red Sox in 2011.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASN can't see the Orioles signing a full-time DH now that Derrek Lee is on board.
  • Police say Alfredo Simon is the primary suspect in a fatal shooting in the Dominican Republic, reports the Associated Press (via the Miami Herald). Simon insists he was not involved in the incident, according to Orioles Dominican representative Felipe Alou Jr.

Red Sox, Okajima Close On One-Year Deal

The Red Sox and reliever Hideki Okajima are closing in on a one-year deal, a major league source tells Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.  The left-hander was non-tendered by the Red Sox earlier this year.

This post was originally published on December 31st.

Athletics Out On Adrian Beltre

The Athletics pulled out of talks with Adrian Beltre this week, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  They made multiple offers for the third baseman this winter, but will now look at relievers Chad Qualls and Hideki Okajima and possibly a different third base option.

Rosenthal says the Rangers maintain interest but "remain uncomfortable with both the price and fit" for Beltre given incumbent third baseman Michael Young.

Unless a surprise team jumps in, the Angels remain the favorite despite pulling their offer.  It does not appear that their situation has changed since these reports eight days ago.

Mets Notes: Elvin Ramirez, Ohman, Rhodes, Okajima

The latest on the Mets as the third day of the Winter Meetings wraps up…

Strong Interest In Andrew Miller

3:25pm: The Giants and Red Sox are competing for Miller, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).

WEDNESDAY, 3:00pm: Miller met with four teams yesterday and is still fielding offers, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston (Twitter links). The Red Sox are engaged with Hideki Okajima and Miller and the team would like to re-sign Miller.

TUESDAY, 11:11am: Miller will be at the Winter Meetings in person this afternoon to meet with teams, including the Red Sox, tweets ESPN's Gordon Edes.

4:24am: Cliff Lee isn't the only lefty free agent represented by Darek Braunecker, but I think it's safe to say that Braunecker's other client, Andrew Miller, won't be receiving the same types of offers as the 2008 AL Cy Young winner.

Still, Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe relay some information from Braunecker, stating that "a lot" of clubs are interested in Miller, the former #6 overall pick in the draft. Boston would like Miller back on a reasonable deal, but it sounds like they'll have some competition.

The Red Sox flipped Dustin Richardson for Miller last month, but then decided not to tender the 25-year-old Miller a contract due to concerns over what kind of salary he'd command in arbitration. Miller became a free agent, and understandably, several clubs would like to get their hands on a player who was drafted sixth overall and once rated the game's #10 prospect by Baseball America.

The 6'7" southpaw was rushed to the Majors to say the least, when the Tigers called him up on August 30, 2006, just months after he was drafted. The hope was that the projected strikeout machine would help solidify their stretch run out of the bullpen. Miller struggled, but the assumption was that he'd be a solid contributor in the near future.

That looked to be the case, as Miller pitched very well across three minor league levels in 2007 before being called up to once again struggle in the Majors, this time in 13 starts. Still, as a 22-year-old, expectations were high. They were so high, in fact, that he became one of the centerpieces (along with Cameron Maybin) to the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from Florida to Detroit.

Miller's command struggles continued with the Marlins though, and his fastball velocity continued to drop. In November 2010, the Marlins flipped him to Boston for Richardson, a pitcher who was drafted 157 picks after Miller in the same 2006 draft and has just 16 1/3 Major League innings to his name. Not what Florida was hoping for.

Miller won't turn 26 until late next May though, and that leaves plenty of time for him to put it together. As it wouldn't take more than a minimal investment, many teams have contacted Braunecker. It's not as if high upside, left-handed pitchers grow on trees, after all. Miller may never become the front-line starter he was once projected to be, but that pedigree can certainly provide him with a number of suitors to choose from.

Red Sox Notes: Buchholz, Gonzalez, Ellsbury, Okajima

Here's the latest on the Red Sox, including some continued fallout from the blockbuster Adrian Gonzalez deal…

  • The Red Sox are interested in adding a complementary right-handed bat, GM Theo Epstein tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).
  • The Red Sox have offered Taylor Buchholz a minor league deal and are one of 12 teams to express interest in the right-hander, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
  • Felix Doubront, Jed Lowrie, and Jacoby Ellsbury's names were all discussed in the Boston/San Diego trade talks, says John Tomase of the Boston Herald.  Ellsbury was the only one that drew much interest from the Padres, but they decided against him since Ellsbury's forthcoming arbitration raise would make him too expensive and a trade candidate himself in the near future.
  • Also from Tomase, both Chicago teams were "finalists" for Gonzalez and were offering at least one major league player in their trade packages.  Ultimately, San Diego decided that it preferred the prospects in Boston's offer.
  • John Boggs, Gonzalez's agent, talks to WEEI.com's D.J. Bean about the contract extension negotiations that nearly held up the trade on the weekend.  "We’re not working in a spirit to get [the Red Sox] by the jugular or squeeze every nickel, or set a precedent-setting deal," Boggs said.
  • The agent for Hideki Okajima tells ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes (Twitter link) that he will talk with the Red Sox "soon," though there has been "pretty strong" interest in Okajima from some other clubs.
  • It's not often the Red Sox are priced out of a signing, but FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says Jayson Werth's contract with Washington may have made Carl Crawford too expensive for Boston's liking, especially since the Sox now have to fit a Gonzalez extension ("the parameters" for which are $154MM over seven years) into their budget.  The Red Sox may instead focus on acquiring relievers or finding a cheaper outfield option, like trading for Josh Willingham.
  • Adrian Beltre's asking price is $85MM over five years, Rosenthal reports.  Boston would be interested in re-signing the third baseman if "the market for Beltre collasped," but the plan is to play Kevin Youkilis at third with Gonzalez taking over at first.  Rosenthal says the Red Sox aren't considering moving Youkilis to left field to make room for Beltre.

American League Non-Tenders

This post will list all the American League players non-tendered today, but the best place to track all 200+ arbitration eligible players is our new non-tender tracker.

Odds & Ends: Shell, Kuroda, V-Mart, Okajima, Davies

Links for Monday evening…

  • Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that the Royals have signed reliever Steven Shell to a minor league deal. Shell, 27, had a 3.59 ERA in 72.2 innings with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate last season.
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post lists the Cardinals, Phillies, and Rockies as some of the teams that were interested in Hiroki Kuroda before he re-signed with the Dodgers (Twitter link).  Kuroda, however, re-signed without fielding offers from other teams according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.
  • Add the Rangers to the list of teams showing interest in Victor Martinez says SI.com's Jon Heyman (via Twitter).
  • WEEI.com's Rob Bradford tweets that Hideki Okajima is subject to a normal arbitration calendar this offseason. In the past the Red Sox had to offer him a contract by November 20th.
  • Non-tender candidate Kyle Davies hopes to remain with the Royals, says MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. Davies hasn't heard anything from the team regarding his future.
  • Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Cliff Lee's agent Darek Braunecker is still unsure if he will attend this week's GM Meetings.
  • MLB.com's Jane Lee provides a list of power bat the Athletics could potentially pursue as free agents this offseason.
  • The Yankees don't believe that Derek Jeter will ultimately leave New York, but they're prepared for a long negotiation according to Heyman (Twitter link).
  • Meanwhile, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that there is still no word whether or not Andy Pettitte will return to pitch in 2011.
  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak doesn't expect any roster moves at this week's meetings according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says the team is growing more optimistic about re-signing Jake Westbrook, however (Twitter link).
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer that it's too early in the offseason to tell whether his team's needs will be filled through trades or free agency.
  • MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith is on location at this week's GM Meetings in Orlando, and you can follow him on Twitter at @mlbtrorlando for the latest breaking news and analysis.
  • There is mutual interest between the Marlins and free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reports Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. Capozzi says the team might not be able to afford him, though they could free up payroll space by dealing Dan Uggla
  • FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says that the Dodgers are looking to add power to their lineup, and James Loney is the player they're most most willing to trade. They would then turn around and sign one of the many power-hitting first baseman available on the free agent market.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that the first round of manager interviews includes one or two more candidates while the second round will consist of three or four candidates according to Andy Martino of The New York Daily News (all Twitter links). The second set of interviews could begin in Orlando this week, and Alderson said his father's death on Sunday will not slow things down.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick profiles Giants GM Brian Sabean and the work that lies ahead following his team's World Series victory.
  • Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues looks at how signing Lee would impact the Yankees' future payroll. Meanwhile, Brian Cashman told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he doesn't expect to get any deals done this week.
  • Best of luck to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. He's trading in the Blue Jays' beat for the Indians' beat.