Conor Frederick (@C_Frederick1016)
With the World Series ending tonight 1 way or another, the off-season will begin officially tomorrow at 9 am and teams will be allowed to try and negotiate with their impending free agents. The most notable Red Sox free agent this year? Koji Uehara. The Sox still want him back, and have already begun negotiations with him, WEEI reports.
“I think we’ve been very clear we want to keep Koji with us,” manager John Farrell said the day after the season. “I’m confident we’ll make every effort to do just that. What he went through late in the season we’ve been able to determine and see that he went through that previously when he was with Texas so while every elite pitcher, every pitcher, is going to have some stretches where their performance is less than, we feel that’s been the case with Koji and despite the age, he’s still a very good performer and a guy we want to anchor the backend of the bullpen with.”
According to WEEI, the Red Sox don't plan on extending Koji a 1-year/$15.3 million qualifying offer when free agency rolls around, which could be taken as a sign they believe they can get deal done.
Save for a few weeks at the end of the year, Koji was the same guy who played such a big part of last year, converting 26 of 28 save opportunities and posting a 1.27 ERA through August 15th, before his season hit a pothole. The pros of bringing him back would be that he was pretty consistent, bar the last few weeks of 2014, and it was pretty much impossible to hit him when he was in his zone. On the flipside of that, he did struggle towards the end of the year - his ERA ballooned to 2.52 by seasons end, and he's not getting any younger here - he's 39 right now. The million dollar question is whether he'll be able to pitch another year or more at the same level he's capable of age 40+. Not everyone can be Mariano Rivera, who was an effective closer for the most part into his 40's for the Yankees. The Red Sox obviously think he can, so we'll wait and see what happens. I love Koji and would like to see him back in a Sox uniform, but it's always good to have a Plan B.
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