Report: Cubs close to adding Uehara to bullpen

Report: Cubs close to adding Uehara to bullpen

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- One of the areas the Cubs wanted to improve upon in 2017 was to be better equipped in the bullpen against left-handed hitters. They may have found some help in Koji Uehara.

Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reported the Cubs were close to signing the 41-year-old right-hander. Nikkan Sports in Japan reported the deal was for one year and $4.5 million. The Cubs would not confirm the report.

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Uehara, who was 2-3 with a 3.45 ERA with the Red Sox this past season, would need to undergo a physical exam before a contract could be completed. In eight seasons in the big leagues pitching for the Orioles, Rangers and Red Sox, Uehara is 19-22 with a 2.53 ERA in 387 games. He was Boston's closer from 2013-15.

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Since winning the World Series, the Cubs' main goal this offseason has been to bolster the bullpen, and so far, they've acquired closer Wade Davis from the Royals, signed Brian Duensing and added lefty Caleb Smith in a trade with the Brewers after he was selected in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Uehara has held left-handed hitters to a .183 average in his career (right-handers have hit .208). He was limited to 50 games this past season after being sidelined with a right pectoral strain.

With lefty Mike Montgomery in the rotation and Travis Wood gone via free agency, the Cubs have been trying to build up a reserve of relief pitching that can counter left-handed hitters.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.