Red Sox expected to non-tender reliever Hideki Okajima

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Boston is expected to non-tender reliever Hideki Okajima before tonight’s deadline, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.

Okajima proved to be an excellent investment for the Red Sox, who signed him out of Japan in November of 2006 for just $2.5 million. He quickly emerged as one of the league’s top setup men, going 12-4 with a 2.72 ERA and 176/62 K/BB ratio in 192 innings from 2007-2009.

He struggled mightily for most of this year and entered August with a 5.73 ERA, but allowed just two runs in his final 16 appearances to finish with a respectable 4.50 mark in 46 innings overall.

Okajima also managed to turn the Boston media completely against him by often refusing to speak to them following poor outings. Along those lines, this morning Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe–who has been one of Okajima’s harshest critics, to say the least–called his rumored non-tendering “addition by subtraction.”

He still looks capable of being a solid setup man, but getting out of Boston is probably best for Okajima at this point and it’s tough to blame the Red Sox for cutting bait rather than paying him approximately $3.5 million in 2011.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.