The Chicago Cubs’ front office suggested they weren’t done adding to the bullpen even after making a trade for stud closer Wade Davis, and, with all appropriate respect to new lefty Caleb Smith, the Rule 5 Draft probably wasn’t going to be the only route for another addition.
And so it is that the Cubs are close to a one-year deal with 41-year-old righty Koji Uehara, and I’m told it’ll be in the $6 million range. Which is an excellent get for the Cubs.
Don’t let the age fool you, as Uehara has been consistently excellent going on seven straight seasons. Last year looks like a blip in the ERA and FIP department (it was the first time either figure had been above 3.09 since 2009/10), driven entirely by a flukey HR/FB ratio. His strikeout rate was actually up to a whopping 34.2% last year, and his walk rate was a tiny 6.0%.
Uehara has a reverse split for his career, and has been especially brutal on lefties the last two years (.218 wOBA against in 2015, .211 in 2016).
We’ll go for a deeper dive when things are buttoned up on the deal, but, for now, it looks like the Cubs will make a very sound addition to a bullpen that suddenly, once again, looks deep and strong.