ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 26: Pitcher Koji Uehara #19 of the Texas Rangers receives high fives in the dugout after striking out Torii Hunter (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Rangers defeated the Angels 4-3. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
It's well-known that Texas Rangers reliever Koji Uehara already blocked a trade to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this offseason with his limited no-trade clause. Then, on Friday, reports came out that he had indeed blocked another trade to an undisclosed team. So it's clear, either the Rangers are trying to deal him to Timbuktu or he just really loves it in Arlington.
Problem is, the feeling might not be mutual. Uehara was acquired at the trade deadline last summer from the Baltimore Orioles, where he was a lights-out relief pitcher with an incredible strikeout-to-walk ratio on his resume. When he came to Texas, it took him a while to get acclimated and he turned in a pretty disappointing season, going 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in his 22 regular-season games with the Rangers. Then, in the postseason, Uehara totally fell flat on his face and chipped a few teeth, giving up five runs in just 1 1/3 postseason innings.
Uehara, as likeable as his dugout excitement was, might have worn out his welcome with the Rangers after they paid a pretty hefty price (Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis) to get him.
So it sounds inevitable that Uehara will be pitching elsewhere in 2012, so what will the Rangers do with that extra roster spot? There's talk they could go back after free agent starter Roy Oswalt, who has said he does not want to come out of the bullpen. As far as we're concerned, that eliminates that possibility. The more likely scenario would be re-signing reliever Mike Gonzalez, who the Rangers also acquired late last season and would give them another lefty, hard-throwing presence out of the bullpen.
Gonzalez had his moments during his brief time with the Rangers, most notably in the postseason when he had five appearances in the ALDS and ALCS and put up a 0.00 ERA before the wheels fell off a bit in the World Series along with the rest of the Rangers' bullpen.