Hideki Okajima went back to Japan last season after spending five years with the Red Sox, but the 37-year-old reliever said recently that he’s looking to return to MLB and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s are interested.
Okajima spent most of his final Red Sox season at Triple-A and would almost surely have to settle for a minor-league contract at this point, but the left-hander was ridiculously good in Japan last year with a 0.94 ERA in 48 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
His overall ERA with the Red Sox was 3.11 in 246 innings and opponents hit just .238 off Okajima. Last offseason he signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, but it was voided because of an undisclosed physical issue and led to his returning to Japan.
The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.
Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.
The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.
It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.
Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.
The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.