At last, it looks like the long-expected Koji Uehara deal has wrapped up. Although many were reporting a $4.5 million one-year deal last week, I was told it was closer to $6 million, and I reported that at the time. This morning, Jesse Rogers confirms that it is, indeed, $6 million. I hope you’ll forgive the META.
If you missed word of the signing last week, some early thoughts on adding the 41-year-old righty to the Cubs’ bullpen mix:
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).
With the signing looking official, we’ll dig deeper into Uehara’s career, his ERA jump last year, and how he projects for the Cubs in 2017. The short version, though, is that the Cubs have added low-risk depth at worst, and a very impactful reliever at best.