The Boston Red Sox will see their deal with closer Koji Uehara run out at season’s end. The Japanese reliever will be 40 years old when the 2014 season ends.
That would seem to have created an ideal situation to dangle Uehara in mid-season trade negotiations, as closers can be hard to predict from one season to the next and are relatively cheap to replace in many cases. It would have been an opportunity to maximize his value, but Boston was not interested in going the trade route and held onto their closer.
The Red Sox would like to bring Uehara back instead. Depending on how committed they are to that plan and how much money it will take to bring Uehara back, one presumes some foresight would be in order as far as Uehara’s workload as the 2014 season winds down.
The suggestion was raised that Boston should consider shutting down Uehara to avoid putting unnecessary wear on his arm in meaningless games. Manager John Farrell says the team has no intention to do so, but they will continue to manage his workload appropriately. From ESPN Boston:
“We’ve cut back [on usage] already,” Farrell said. “We have not gotten to the point of shutting him down for the rest of the season and yet we’re careful to make sure there’s ample rest. In the last three outings, there’s been two days off prior to each outing.”
To not trade Uehara and then to keep running him out there, even with extra rest, is a strategy that carries significant risk for the Red Sox. In 59 appearances this season Uehara has a 2.25 ERA, 26 saves, and an 11 K/9 mark.
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