The Boston Red Sox announced Thursday that closer Koji Uehara has re-signed with the team on a two-year contract. The soon-to-be 40-year old will reportedly make $18 million over the course of the deal.
With many roster questions to be answered for the AL East basement dwellers, the Uehara deal puts in place an established closer heading into the 2015 season. Edward Mujica, who had an impressive second half (1.78 ERA) and earned six saves, will be on hand for support.
Speculation had been rampant as to whether the team would extend a qualifying offer, likely to be in excess of $15 million, to the potential free agent. But a rough stretch from August 16th through September 4th, in which Uehara allowed 10 runs on 14 hits over six appearances totaling 4 and 2/3 innings, blowing three saves and taking three losses, appeared to torpedo his value.
The veteran is certainly no “Everyday” Eddie Guardado and has been followed by durability concerns throughout his tenure in America. Bullpen management will be critical for manager John Farrell in 2015 if he wants his newly minted $9 million closer to last the campaign.
That said, Koji has pitched to historic levels in Boston:
Uehara has logged 137 appearances over the last two seasons, converting 47 saves in 55 opportunities and posting a 0.73 WHIP. His 2013 postseason ranks among the best in Red Sox history, as the righty allowed just one run over 13 and 2/3 innings, closing out the World Series at Fenway Park as well as earning ALCS MVP honors.