Drew Silva

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Orioles sign Hideki Okajima to minor league deal


As first reported by Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with veteran left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima. The deal does not come with an invitation to major league camp.

Most figured Okajima was done with baseball in the United States when he returned to his native Japan after appearing in just five games with the Oakland Athletics during the 2013 season. But the 40-year-old southpaw wants to give it another run.

Okajima posted a cool 3.09 ERA in 250 1/3 innings between the Red Sox and A’s from 2007-2013, holding left-handed batters to a .223/.281/.333 slash line.

He will operate as organizational lefty relief depth for the O’s.

Mets avoid arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia at $4.1 million

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Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Mets have avoided arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia by agreeing to a one-year, $4.1 million contract for the 2016 season.

This was Familia’s first year of arbitration eligibility, and there will be two more to follow. He requested $4.8 million and was offered $3.3 million from the Mets when figures were exchanged on January 15. It took about three weeks for the two sides to find a compromise.

Familia emerged as one of the best closers in baseball last year, posting a 1.85 ERA and 86/19 K/BB ratio in 78 regular-season innings for the eventual National League champions. He also tallied 43 regular-season saves.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that the 26-year-old right-hander is now the highest-paid reliever in history with only one full season at closer under his belt. The previous king under those parameters was Orioles closer Zach Britton, who pulled in a $3.2 million salary in 2015. It’s a record that will likely keep breaking as baseball’s basic economics explode upward and young fireballers continue to dominate the ninth-inning game.

Tigers and J.D. Martinez discussing one- and two-year deals

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Chris Iott of MLive.com reported last month that the Tigers and J.D. Martinez were working toward a long-term contract extension and Martinez acknowledged at that time that he would “love to be a Tiger for life.”

But it appears those negotiations have been scaled back with a potential arbitration hearing looming. It would be the Tigers’ first arbitration hearing since 2001.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million when figures were formally exchanged on January 15.

FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi says the two parties are currently discussing one- and two-year deals. Martinez is arbitration-eligible for both 2016 and 2017, so neither of the proposals currently on the table would roll into his potential free agency. A two-year deal would simply cover those final two arbitration-eligible seasons.

Martinez appears to be betting on himself here — banking that his 2014 and 2015 were no fluke. Or maybe the Tigers really low-balled him in those initial long-term talks.

The 28-year-old outfielder led Detroit with 38 home runs and 102 RBI last season.