BOSTON -- While Red Sox pitchers from Jon Lester to Andrew Miller find themselves in the middle of trade rumors, it appears that another potential free agent pitcher will be staying put.
There's been little talk about the Sox entertaining offers for closer Koji Uehara -- and there's a reason for that.
"He's the easiest to retain,'' said a baseball source.
Translation: The Sox are apparently intending to make Uehara a qualifying offer, which he'll likely accept and return for a one-year deal in 2015.
The qualifying offer hasn't been established, but it's expected to be in the neighborhood of $15 million, an increase over last year's figure of $14.1 million.
The $15 million would be considered an overpay for Uehara, but the Red Sox can afford to do so. The only closer in history who's had an average annual value (AAV) of $15 million is Mariano Rivera, who had a $15 million AAV on his final two deals with the Yankees.
If the Sox dealt Uehara, there would be nothing to stop them from attempting to re-sign him after the season, as they might do in the case of a trade invovling either Miller or Lester.
But they would lose the mechanism of the qualifying offer and have to compete with other teams, some of whom might be willing to give him more than a year. If the Sox hold onto Uehara and he's offered $15 million for next season, it's inconceivable that he would turn that down.
Uehara will turn 40 next April, but has maintained his level of dominance this year, his second with the Red Sox. Before Monday's game, Uehara was 21-for- 23 in save opportunities with a 1.51 ERA and a WHIP of 0.755.
In the last week, the Padres sent Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers dealt Joakim Soria the Detroit Tigers. The San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles are among the handful of contending teams looking to upgrade their closers.