It's official: Cubs sign former Red Sox closer


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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs and right-handed pitcher Koji Uehara have agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2017 campaign. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Uehara, 41, is 19-22 with 67 holds, 93 saves and a 2.53 ERA (123 ER/437.2 IP) in 387 major league appearances, all but 12 in relief, covering eight seasons with the Baltimore Orioles (2009-11), Texas Rangers (2011-12) and Boston Red Sox (2013-16). He has struck out 522 batters and walked only 66 in 437.2 innings, an average of 10.7 strikeouts and 1.4 walks per nine innings. Uehara owns a 0.86 WHIP in his career, the lowest mark in major league history among pitchers with at least 400.0 innings, while his 7.91 strikeout to walk ratio is best in major league history (min. 400 IP).

In his career, Uehara has limited opponents to a .195 batting average, including a .183 batting average by left-handed hitters and a .208 batting average by right-handed hitters. In 2016, the righthander limited left-handed hitters to a .139 batting average, a .200 on-base percentage and a .278 slugging percentage, good for a .478 OPS against.


The six-foot-two, 195-pound Uehara was named the 2013 Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series and later recorded the final out of the World Series, going 1-1 with seven saves and a 0.66 ERA (1 ER/13.2 IP, 0 BB, 16 K) in 13 post-season appearances that year. Overall, Uehara is 1-1 with seven saves and a 3.00 ERA (3 ER/18.0 IP) in 19 career post-season appearances, walking only two batters in that span, none since 2012.

Uehara was named to the 2014 All-Star team during a season in which he posted a career-high 26 saves and six wins. He totaled 72 saves in a three-year span from 2013-15 before splitting the 2016 campaign between closer and set-up roles, going 2-3 with 18 holds, seven saves, a 0.96 WHIP and 3.45 ERA (18 ER/47.0 IP) in 50 outings with Boston.

The righthander signed a two-year free agent contract with Baltimore prior to the 2009 season after a 10-year career with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan (1999-2008). He made 12 starts with Baltimore in his rookie campaign but has pitched exclusively in relief starting in 2010. Uehara was traded to Texas midway through the 2011 season, helping the Rangers to a World Series appearance, and posted a 0.64 WHIP and 1.75 ERA (7 ER/36.0 IP) in 37 relief appearances in 2012 before signing with Boston prior to the 2013 campaign.

Uehara had a career year with the Red Sox in 2013, going 4-1 with 21 saves, a 0.57 WHIP and 1.09 ERA (9 ER/74.1 IP) in 73 relief appearances to help Boston to the World Championship. His 0.57 WHIP that year remains the lowest single-season mark in major league history by any pitcher with at least 40.0 innings pitched.

Chicago’s 40-man roster is at 37 players.




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