For a while, it looked like 2010 was going to be Hideki Okajima's last season in Boston. However, it seems the reliever is heading back to the Red Sox' bullpen.
According to The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox are closing in on a one-year deal with Okajima to keep him in a Sox uniform for the fifth consecutive season.
Okajima was non-tendered in early December, but general manager Theo Epstein maintained interest in re-signing the left-hander. Okie will compete with fellow lefties Rich Hill, Lenny DiNardo, Andrew Miller and Felix Doubront in the bullpen.
The contract is likely worth less than $3.5 million, reports NBCSports.com, which is the approximate amount he would have commanded if he had gone through arbitration.
According to NESN's Tom Caron, Okajima had interest from seven other teams in the league, including three teams in the AL East. Okajima, however, wanted to return to the Red Sox.
While he posted a solid ERA through his first three years with Boston, Okajima dropped off in 2010. He finished the season with a 4.50 ERA in 46 innings of work.