The Boston Red Sox have not waved the white flag on the 2014 season yet, but last night's youthful lineup sent the message that they already have one eye on 2015. Consider this: at 40–51, the Red Sox would need to go 51–20 to finish with 91 wins, the lowest total of an AL wild card team in the past decade.
With long odds like those, just about every player on Boston's roster has been the subject of trade rumors this month. For us, the most interesting name being floated around is closer Koji Uehara. The New England media is using headlines like "When the Red Sox sell" (emphasis mine), and pawning off a closer on an expiring contract is one of the easiest prospect grabs in baseball.
WHY THIS MAKES SENSE
Even before Uehara lit the world on fire with a stellar 2013 season, he was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He is currently working on his third consecutive season with a sub-2.00 ERA and owns a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8.73. His numbers are off-the-charts good and he dominates both left and right-handed hitters. His splitter is basically death on a string. You know how Tigers fans have unreasonable expectations for what a relief pitcher should be? Koji Uehara is that guy.
WHY THIS DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
The only real reason why this should not happen is if (a) someone else overpays by a ton, or (b) the Red Sox ask for too much and end up not trading him at all. Uehara's contract is cheap as all get-out and expires at the end of the season. He's also 39, which seems to be a bad age for closers. Not that we know that first-hand ...
The Red Sox don't seem too interested in selling Uehara at this point despite the media's best efforts to convince them otherwise. While picking up a prospect or two for your closer can be an easy way to retool the farm system, holding onto a reliever as good as Uehara can also be worthwhile for a team that should compete again in 2015.