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Koji Uehara’s 2014 option to vest with one more appearance

08.12.13 at 1:16 pm ET
By
Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has stabilized the back of his team’s bullpen while offering a dominating ninth-inning presence, recording a 1.35 ERA, 12 saves and striking out 74 while walking just nine in 53 1/3 innings this year. In his last 18 games (spanning 19 1/3 innings), he has not given up an earned run while striking out 25 and walking just two, with opponents hitting .109/.136/.125 against him since the start of July.

Now, it appears increasingly likely that the role is one in which Uehara may contribute not just for the rest of this season but also for next. According to an industry source, Uehara’s one-year, $4.25 million deal included a $4.25 million vesting option for the 2014 season that becomes guaranteed when he pitches in 55 games; incentives can push the value of the deal to $5 million with 35 games finished.

The 38-year-old now has appeared in 54 games, meaning that with his next appearance, his 2014 option will become guaranteed. Had the option not vested and had the Sox declined it, Uehara would have been eligible for free agency following this season.

In five seasons since coming to the big leagues from Japan, Uehara has a 2.58 ERA with the highest strikeout-to-walk rate (8.0 strikeouts per walk) in big league history.

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