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.
Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.
When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.
Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.