Peter Abraham of the Globe's Extra Bases blog took a peek at some important days this week for the Sox.
Tuesday: This is the deadline for free agents offered arbitration to decide whether they will accept. For the Red Sox, this affects Adrian Beltre and Felipe Lopez. Both almost certainly will decline. If Beltre signs elsewhere, the Red Sox would receive two draft picks. For Lopez, a Type B free agent, the return would be a first-round "sandwich" pick.
Thursday: This is the non-tender date, which has been been moved up from recent years. This is the deadline for the Red Sox to tender a contract to any arbitration-eligible players. This effects three players: Jacoby Ellsbury, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon
Beltre isn't gone yet, but no way he's accepting arbitration. The Sox obtained Lopez solely so they could offer him arbitration, watch him decline, and then get a draft pick. If they had any inkling of a thought that he'd accept, I don't think the offer would have been extended. So if anyone was expecting Tuesday to rock your socks, you will be sorely disappointed.
Thursday. Now there's a day that could get wild. I seriously doubt we're going to find any surprises in the Ellsbury - Papelbon front. Abraham predicts Paps will net around $11 million, a slight bump from last season. He also wonders if the Sox should just walk away from him, or dump him off on the first bidder, but that's silly talk.
Okajima is where things get interesting. I don't expect the Sox to tender him a contract. Not unless they already have a trading partner lined up for his "services". Hopefully Theo is going to do everything in his power to ensure Okajima is not on the Sox' roster heading into the 2011 season.
Abraham sums his situation up as:
Yes, he is lefthanded. But opposing hitters had a .737 OPS against him last season, the highest of his career. Players from opposing teams have become accustomed to his funky delivery and now sit on what essentially a lousy fastball.
If the Red Sox bring Okajima back you have to wonder how serious they are about fixing their bullpen. It wouldn't be a shock if the Red Sox traded him before Thursday, perhaps to a NL team.
Simply put: Okajima is awful. He served his purpose for the team, earned a few million dollars, made it to an All-Star game, and was a bit of a folk-hero for a short period of time.
Thanks for the memories, Hideki, but please be sure to turn off the lights and lock the door on your way out.