According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox plan to not tender the contract of left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima, a club source said late Wednesday night. Okajima is expected to become a free agent.
Okajima earned $2.8 million dollars last season and was scheduled to be arbitration-eligible.
|2010 - Hideki Okajima||4-4||57||0||0||0||0||4||46.0||59||24||23||6||20||33||4.50||1.72|
Okajima last year had by far the worst of his four seasons in Boston after coming over from Japan with Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2007, posting a sub-par 4.50 ERA and costing the Red Sox a ton of games in later innings (the Seattle one still sticks with me). He struggled terribly on the road as opponents hit .398 off of him.
Okajima could be brought back says Edes, because left-handed relievers are very hard to come by, but the Sox would only do so at a lower price. With Okajima now gone, the Red Sox will likely step up their efforts to acquire a left handed reliever in addition to their pursuit of Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and Adrian Beltre.
Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs remains the best left-handed reliever on the market, however because he is a Type-A free agent, any team who signs him would have to give the Blue Jays a high draft pick in return. The Red Sox have also expressed interest in Twins reliever Matt Guerrier.
Either way, the Red Sox are certainly going to have some different faces in the bullpen next season.