BOSTON -- It turns out that the parting of ways between the Red Sox and Hideki Okajima was just temporary. After non-tendering the lefty reliever on Dec. 2, Boston re-signed him to a one-year, $1.75 million deal on Monday.
That figure is $1 million less than what he earned in 2010. However, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported that incentives could bring the value up to $2.3 million and the deal includes a clause that would allow the lefty to become a free agent after the 2011 season.
This will be Okajima's fifth season in the Majors, so without that clause, he couldn't have become a free agent until after '12.
A stalwart in Boston's bullpen in his first three seasons -- particularly the World Series championship season of 2007 -- Okajima faltered in 2010.
In 56 games, Okajima posted a 4.50 ERA, the highest of his career. Opponents hit him at a .314 clip, the first time he surrendered a batting average higher than .242.
However, one reason for optimism is that Okajima finished the season on a strong note, notching a 1.54 ERA in his last 14 outings. In fact, after posting a 6.00 ERA before the All-Star break, Okajima lowered it to 2.37 after the break.
Okajima will be part of a bullpen that has added some key pieces over the winter in Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. The Red Sox also have an elite setup man in Daniel Bard and a four-time All-Star closer in Jonathan Papelbon.
Felix Doubront, a prospect the Red Sox like, is expected to join Okajima as another lefty in the 'pen.
Okajima, 35, came to the Red Sox following a successful career in Japan. In the Major Leagues, he is 16-8 with a 3.06 ERA and six saves.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.