Hideki Okajima began the season at Triple-A, got called up to rejoin the Red Sox’s bullpen in mid-April, was designated for assignment last week, and now has accepted an assignment back to Triple-A after passing through waivers unclaimed.
And all that has happened after he re-signed with the Red Sox this offseason for $1.75 million.
That contract likely explains why Okajima cleared waivers, although certainly he’s also pitched poorly enough to scare teams off at a fraction of the cost.
Okajima finished strong last season after a terrible first half and has allowed opponents to bat just .233 with a .643 OPS in 8.1 innings so far this season, but that comes with a 6/5 K/BB ratio and he has a 4.47 ERA in 54 innings dating back to last year.
He still looks capable of being a useful middle reliever, but apparently that isn’t worth $1 million to anyone.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.