A’s “getting close” to acquiring Koji Uehara from Rangers

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Texas has been shopping Koji Uehara all offseason and they may have finally found a taker, as Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the Rangers are “getting close” to trading him to the A’s.

Uehara almost immediately fell out of favor with the Rangers after they acquired him from the Orioles for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis on July 30, but his $4 million salary for this season is plenty reasonable for a guy with a 2.56 ERA and remarkable 140/14 K/BB ratio in 109 innings during the past two seasons.

Uehara previously blocked a trade to the Blue Jays and was said to prefer a return to the Orioles, but if nothing else he should like pitching in Oakland’s ballpark and the A’s are smart to buy low on the 37-year-old right-hander. And he may get a chance to compete for the closer gig with Grant Balfour.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.