Red Sox sign right-handed pitcher Koji Uehara to a two-year contract

BOSTON, MA - The Boston Red Sox today signed right-handed pitcher Koji Uehara to a two-year contract through the 2016 season.

Executive Vice President/General Manager Ben Cherington made the announcement.

A first-time All-Star in 2014, Uehara, 39, went 6-5 with 26 saves and a 2.52 ERA (18 ER/64.1 IP) in 64 games for the Red Sox. He finished the year with 80 strikeouts compared to just eight walks for a 10-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio which ranked second among all American League relievers on the season.

Uehara, who did not allow runs in 53 of his 64 appearances this past year, posted a team season-best 21.0-inning scoreless streak from May 3 to June 16. He converted each of his first 15 save chances of the season to run his streak of consecutive saves converted to 31, which is the second-longest in Red Sox history.

In 2013, his first year with Boston, he had a 1.09 ERA and recorded 21 saves in 24 chances during the regular season, setting an AL record with 44 perfect outings out of 73 total appearances. His 0.57 WHIP was the best single-season mark in major league history among pitchers with at least 40.0 innings.

He pitched in 13 of Boston's 16 postseason games en route to the 2013 World Series championship, and secured the title by striking out the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter for the final out of Game 6 at Fenway Park exactly one year ago today. 

Overall in the 2013 postseason, he gave up just one run in 13.2 innings (0.66 ERA), converted all seven save chances, and was named MVP of the American League Championship Series.

Uehara's 1.75 ERA as a Red Sox is the best mark in club history (min. 75.0 IP) and ranks second among major league relievers since the start of 2013 (min. 85.0 IP) behind only Kansas City's Wade Davis (0.99). His 181 strikeouts out of the bullpen in that time rank second in the American League to the Royals' Greg Holland. 

Over the last two seasons, he posted the lowest WHIP (0.73) and walk ratio (1.1 walks per nine innings pitched), and the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (10.7) among all big league relievers.

Over six major league seasons with the Orioles (2009-11), Rangers (2011-12), and Red Sox (2013-14), Uehara has gone 15-15 with 61 saves and a 2.44 ERA (95 ER/350.1 IP) in 294 outings, including 12 starts in his debut campaign. With just 46 walks and 250 hits allowed and 412 strikeouts, he owns the best career strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.0 SO/BB) and WHIP (0.84) in major league history among pitchers with at least 100.0 lifetime innings.

In his 10 seasons (1999-2008) for the Yomiuri Giants in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Central League, Uehara compiled a 112-62 record with 33 saves, a 3.01 ERA (518 ER/1,549.0 IP), and 1,376 strikeouts. He led the NPB in wins in 1999 and 2002, ERA in 1999 and 2004, and strikeouts in 1999 and 2003.

An eight-time NPB All-Star (1999-2005, 2007), he was named the Central League Rookie of the Year in 1999, along with winning the Sawamura Award as the NPB's top pitcher, the Golden Glove Award, and being named to the Top Nine Award as NPB's best all-around starting pitcher in both 1999 and 2002. He led the Giants to the Japan Series championship in 2000 and 2002. He also participated in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games for Team Japan, and helped lead his country to the gold medal at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.