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Yankees sign former Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima

Dec 28, 2011, 11:17 AM EDT

Hideki Okajima

Hideki Okajima spent nearly all of last season in the minors despite being paid $1.75 million by the Red Sox and now the veteran reliever will try to make it back to the majors with the Yankees.

David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that Okajima has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Yankees that includes an invitation to spring training.

At age 36 the odds are against Okajima reestablishing himself as a quality setup man, but he pitched very well at Triple-A with a 2.29 ERA and 48/9 K/BB ratio in 51 innings and if nothing else could be useful as a situational left-hander.

Okajima provided an excellent return on the Red Sox’s investment after signing out of Japan in 2006, throwing 246 innings with a 3.11 ERA while being paid around $8.5 million.

  1. uyf1950 - Dec 28, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    This is one of those low risk potentially high reward minor league signings with a spring training invite. But I think if the Yankees do take a 2nd lefty specialist north after spring training it’s more likely to be the kid they signed as a Rule 5 player at the winter meetings, Cesar Cabral.

    • protectthishouse54 - Dec 28, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      Could be another nice under-the-radar Cashman signing. If nothing else, he might be good insurance in case of an injury. You know, if Feliciano can’t play or something.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

        I think it’s already been determined that Feliciano won’t pitch in 2012 with his injury and subsequent surgery. He’s done that’s a cool $8.25MM down the drain. Oh well it’s only money.

    • pisano - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      Happy New Year my friend, on Okajima, I think if they use him correctly he’ll be passable. The Sox have a habit of burning relievers out with over use. I was surprised they didn’t eat Aceves up last year, but that being said this is as you said a low risk move. I don’t think they will make any big moves on another starter, it seems they feel they have enough in house and it appears as far as trades for a starter go, it’s their way or the hiway.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:16 PM

        Happy New Year to you are as well my friend. I’m beginning to believe you’re right about the Yankees not splurging on a big name signing this winter. Hopefully at the trade deadline if need be they will do whatever they need to.

        Actually I see the Yankees having at least the same regular season as in 2011 about 97 or so wins. Their offense in my opinion should actually be a little bit better if for no other reason Montero replaces Posada in the line up. And if Hughes can recapture some of what he had the 1st half of 2010 the starters should win at least as many games as they did last year (69). The bullpen should be even stronger this year with Joba coming back at the latest by mid June.

        Assuming the Yankees make the post season they will need to improve their starting rotation. While the rotation as it looks right now should be more than enough during the regular season come the post season it’s a whole different story. We will just have to wait and see.

        Again, Happy New Year my friend.

    • pjmarn6 - Dec 30, 2011 at 6:59 AM

      The manager consults a log book on every opposing player for pitching to him and for positioning fielders. That same book tells the manager how every member of his team has success against different pitchers and defenses.
      Too bad that gms don’t have a common sense book to refer to. 95% of the baseball players at 36 are over the hill. And there are literally thousands of young prospects begging to be looked at and given a chance.
      Taking a 36 year old and putting him on a farm club just takes away an opportunity from a young player very anxious to demonstrate his abilities.
      Would you prefer to buy a new car or a 18 year old car?

  2. humanexcrement - Dec 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    I’m a firm believer that a roster should have the 25 best players in the organization it (injuries notwithstanding), not some unwritten rule that there must be X number of righties and X number of lefties. I’d rather see the best pitcher get the job instead of a second LOOGY sitting there all season with his thumb up his ass just because he’s left-handed. That’s pretty much what happens on a lot of teams. Not saying Okajima is that kind of guy–he could very well turn out a useful season, but he (or someone like him) could also wind up taking somebody’s job who’s more deserving. What would you rather have, a third-rate lefty or a solid righty?

    • uyf1950 - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:10 PM

      My friend, that’s quite a choice you leave the posters here with at the end of your comment: “a third-rate lefty or a solid righty”.

      Why can’t the choice be a “solid lefty” or an “third rate righty” for the same price. What would you rather have?

      • humanexcrement - Dec 28, 2011 at 10:02 PM

        I’m saying a guy shouldn’t get a spot ONLY because he’s left OR right-handed, the best guy should get it.

  3. psousa1 - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    As his career has gone on he has become more effective against righties than lefties. His best pitch is his changeup that dives away righties. He’s not a true lefty specialist. He now throws in the low to mid 80’s.

    • cur68 - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      Not only the pitches & their velocity but the pitching style, too. Only guy who can throw at an MLB level that isn’t looking at his target when he releases. Watching Okajima pitch is like watching a guy shoot with his eyes closed. How he doesn’t kill someone is beyond me. Lookin’ forward to more Okajima…

  4. foreverchipper10 - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    He gets to join the traveling AAA Yankees as their stadium gets renovated.

  5. homelanddefense - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    low risk, but his best days are well behind him. Be honest Yankee fans, if he were pitching against your team would it worry you?

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