BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox did not tender contracts to reliever Hideki Okajima and new additions Taylor Buchholz and Andrew Miller, making all three players free agents, the team announced after the non-tender deadline.
The Red Sox tendered contracts to the other 21 unsigned players on their major league roster, including closer Jonathan Papelbon, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent after the 2011 season. Papelbon has never gone to an arbitration hearing; he signed for $9.35 million last January and can expect a raise in 2011 that should put his salary at more than eight figures.
Okajima, who was paid $2.8 million last season, is arbitration-eligible and coming off the worst of his four seasons in Boston. He still has the right to negotiate with the Red Sox. Okajima's Boston-based agent, Joseph Rosen, indicated Wednesday the player would have interest in doing so, but he will likely draw attention from other clubs as well.
Right-hander Buchholz, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009 and was claimed on waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays, also is arbitration-eligible, as is left-hander Miller, acquired from the Florida Marlins in November in a trade for Dustin Richardson. Both pitchers could be re-signed for figures smaller than they would have commanded in arbitration.
Buchholz's agent, David Pasti, said the team told him in advance that his client would not be tendered.
"They told me they are still interested in signing Taylor, but for the first time in his career, Taylor actually will have a choice as to where he plays!" Pasti wrote in an e-mail.
"For a guy who's been traded twice and picked up on waivers twice, that's a pleasant change."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.