Hideki Okajima: Blue Jays Target?


According to a report yesterday by Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, the Boston Red Sox do not plan on offering a 2011 contract to left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima.

Edes notes that by the time Okajima hit the disabled list in August, he had lost the confidence of Sox manager Terry Francona. Although Okajima primarily saw action when his team was far ahead or far behind upon his return from the disabled list, he did manage a 1.35 ERA in 15 September appearances.

He’s entering his second year of arbitration eligibility, and should the Red Sox non-tender him, he would become a free agent. As a team that has never really explored Japanese talent, Okajima could be a possibility for the Jays in 2011, though.

Okajima is coming off the worst season of his Major League career, where he made $2.8M and posted a 4.50 ERA in 46 innings in 2010. He was terrible on the road, where opposing hitters raked a .398/.465/.534 line against him. His 11.5 H/9, 3.9 BB/9, and 1.717 WHIP were all career highs, and his 6.5 K/9 was a career low, all in an hamstring injury-plagued season for the southpaw.

That being said, Okajima’s numbers from 2007-2009 are intriguing enough that the Jays, among many other Major League clubs, could show interest.

Okajima, 35 on Christmas Day, could not even have interest in playing for the Jays, but could have extra motivation to get back at the Red Sox, the team that gave up on him and cut him loose, 18 times in 2011.

Okajima could have interest in a one year deal to re-establish his value, and if he could be had for a 1-year/$1.5M type deal, he could be worth it for the Jays to take a look at him.

Jays skipper John Farrell spent time with Okajima when he was with the Red Sox, and would be able to provide the best opinion on whether or not the Jays should pursue him.

What are your thoughts? Assume the role of Alex Anthopoulos for a second and leave a comment in the section below.

-JM

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Tags: Blue Jays Boston Red Sox Hideki Okajima Toronto Blue Jays