Orioles considering reunion with setup man Koji Uehara

5 Comments

The Orioles had one of the best bullpens in the major leagues this year, compiling a fifth-ranked 3.00 ERA.

But they’re still thinking about making some pretty significant upgrades to it this winter via free agency.

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the O’s have interest in a reunion with setup man Koji Uehara, who was traded away to the Rangers in mid-2011 and spent the entire 2012 season in Texas. “He’s on our list, we like him,” said Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “He’s been here before.”

Uehara, 37, posted a 1.75 ERA, 0.64 WHIP and 43/3 K/BB ratio in 36 innings this past year.

The Orioles are also known to have serious interest in free agent right-hander Kameron Loe, who spent the 2012 season with Milwaukee, and highly-coveted Japanese free agent reliever Kyuji Fujikawa.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

Getty Images
2 Comments

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?