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.
Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.
This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.