UPDATE: No word yet on the cause of the failed physical, but the Yankees have released Okajima.
Hideki Okajima, who signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees in December, has failed his physical exam according to David Waldstein of the New York Times.
Waldstein speculates that the Yankees will void his contract and make the 36-year-old reliever a free agent again, although it’s also possible that they could simply alter the terms of the contract and keep him around in the minors.
Okajima pitched his way out of the Red Sox’s plans after three seasons as a top-notch setup man, but was excellent at Triple-A last year with a 2.29 ERA and 49/8 K/BB ratio in 51 innings.
George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner are back together on a one-year, $12.5 million contract. The deal includes a second year option worth $20 million.
Gardner, 36, is coming off of the strongest offensive season of his career, batting .251/.325/.503 with 28 home runs, 74 RBI, 86 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases over 550 plate appearances. While he has certainly lost a step or two with age, he still rates as an above-average defensive corner outfielder as well.
As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes, the Yankees also value Gardner — a veteran of 12 seasons — for his leadership, especially with CC Sabathia and Didi Gregorius gone.
Bringing Gardner back into the fold allows Giancarlo Stanton to remain the full-time DH. Gardner will return to left field with Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge reprising their roles in center and right, respectively.