Updates from Monday, July 28
While Red Sox pitchers from Jon Lester to Andrew Miller find themselves in the middle of trade rumors, it appears that another potential free agent pitcher will be staying put.
There's been little talk about the Sox entertaining offers for closer Koji Uehara -- and there's a reason for that.
"He's the easiest to retain,'' said a baseball source.
Translation: The Sox are apparently intending to make Uehara a qualifying offer, which he'll likely accept and return for a one-year deal in 2015.
With the Boston Red Sox struggling this year and looking unlikely to reach the postseason, the notion of dealing several of their veteran stars to bring back young, talented prospects surely has been raised. And while Red Sox fans always want their team to win, they'll likely forgive the organization for any such deals after winning the World Series a year ago.
One such player who could be moved is All-Star closer Koji Uehara. But at the moment, it appears the team would prefer to keep him in Boston, per Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:
Koji Uehara in great demand but Red Sox would like to hold on to him— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) July 20, 2014
Uehara would be a valuable trade chip for the struggling Red Sox, but team officials have said they would prefer to bring him back in 2015.
Uehara is generally a cheerful interview subject. But he grew serious when free agency came up.
'The experience with the Red Sox has been fun,' he said. 'The World Series and now being selected an All-Star. But I don’t have any specific teams that I want to play for. Any team that wants me the most is fine.'
At the time of publication, the Red Sox were 8.5 games out of first place in the AL East and seven games back of a Wild Card berth. The team may still feel they can get back in the race or, if nothing else, re-sign him in the offseason and make another run at the postseason in 2014.
Uehara is having another excellent season for the Sox. He's 5-2 with 20 saves, a 1.58 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 45.2 innings pitched. He's blown just two saves this year and five in total since joining the team before the 2013 season and being converted to the closer role.
The Sox should do their due diligence and test the waters when it comes to Uehara's value on the market. If a contending team is willing to break the bank to add him, the Sox would be unwise to ignore those advances.
But if the market is relatively tepid and the Sox start to build momentum as the trade deadline nears, keeping Uehara is the logical move. He's certainly proven to be a valuable and extremely consistent performer for the team, even in a disappointing season for the club.