Okajima, Red Sox avoid arbitration

The Red Sox on Thursday agreed to terms with left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract for the 2010 season, thus avoiding salary arbitration, according to the team. Terms were not disclosed.

Okajima figures to be one of the primary set-up men for the Sox, along with Daniel Bard, a role Okajima has filled most of the last three seasons.

Okajima, 34, went 6-0 with a 3.39 ERA in a career-high 68 appearances in 2009. He finished third among qualifying American League pitchers and sixth in the majors by allowing just 16.2 percent (6 of 37) of inherited runners to score. He also tied for fifth in the AL with 24 holds and leads the majors with 74 since the start of the 2007 campaign.

Signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent on Nov. 30, 2006, Okajima is 12-4 with six saves and a 2.72 ERA in three big-league seasons. He has made at least 60 appearances in each of his first three seasons, becoming just the fifth AL left-hander to do so.