The New York Yankees have signed left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima to a minor league contract, general manager Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday morning. The terms were not disclosed but Okajima will be in spring training as a non-roster invite.
The 36-year-old Okajima, a member of the 2007 Boston Red Sox championship team who spent most of 2011 in Triple-A, is expected to compete with Cesar Cabral, acquired by the Yankees in this year's Rule 5 draft, for a spot as a second lefty out of the bullpen with Boone Logan.
Okajima was 17-8 with a 3.11 ERA in five seasons for the Red Sox. He was a regular part of the Red Sox bullpen from 2007-10 and made 66 appearances for the team that won the 2007 World Series. He did not make the Boston roster in 2011, although he was called up briefly in April before being designated for assignment in May. Okajima is far more effective against lefties than righties; left-handed batters have hit just .218 against him in the major leagues.
"He'll compete for the job, but don't count out this kid from the Rule 5 draft," said Cashman, referring to Cabral. "He's kicking (butt) in winter ball."
The Yankees acquired Cabral, 23, for cash from the Kansas City Royals, who had drafted him from the Red Sox. In 36 appearances in the Dominican Winter League this season, Cabral went 3-4 with a 2.95 ERA and struck out 70 in 55 innings.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.