Multiple media outlets report that the Red Sox are close to agreement on a one-year contract with reliever Hideki Okajima.
The Sox non-tendered Okajima earlier this offseason, making him a free agent. The team, however, indicated it might be interested in bringing back the 35-year-old left-hander for less than the 2.75 million he earned in 2010.
Okajima striggled in 2010, posting career highs in ERA (4.50), WHIP (1.717) and walks9 innings (3.9), and career lows in ERA-plus (97), strikeouts9 innings (6.5) and strikeoutwalk ratio (1.65). He pitched in a career-low 56 games, with a career-low 46 innings.
Okajima would be the fifth lefty fighting for what might prove to be one spot in the bullpen. The others are Lenny DiNardo, Felix Doubront, Rich Hill and Andrew Miller. Bullpen spots would seem to be assured to Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler, Scott Atchison and Tim Wakefield, all right-handers.
Boston is also rumored to still be interested in free agent left-hander Brian Fuentes, though his demands may be too rich for the role (left-handed setup manlefty specialist) the Sox would have him fill.