Koji Uehara took a line drive off his right wrist while closing out Friday’s win–throwing to first base to get the final out–and the Red Sox announced that he’ll miss the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture.
Uehara finishes the season with 25 saves and a 2.23 ERA in 40 innings, holding opponents to a .188 batting average while posting a 47/9 K/BB ratio. It’s a spectacular performance for any reliever and especially so for a 40-year-old who came into the season with plenty of questions marks attached after he struggled down the stretch in 2014.
Uehara is under contract for $9 million in 2016 and figures to remain the Red Sox’s closer. Junichi Tazawa is expected to take over ninth-inning duties for the final seven weeks of the season after doing excellent work as Uehara’s setup man for years, including a 3.19 ERA and 48/7 K/BB ratio in 48 innings this season.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.