Free Agency Begins: Koji Uehara
The NPB free agency filing period began yesterday, giving players eligible players 10 days to excercise free agency or stay put. In a shock to no one, Koji Uehara didn’t waste any time in informing the Yomiuri Giants of his intent to cross the Pacific. Uehara will become the second Giants star to move to MLB, after Hideki Matsui. Giants representative thanked Uehara for his 10 years of hard work for the team.
Uehara also announced that he has hired SFX to represent him in upcoming negotiations.
Speculation of Uehara’s destination has already begun. The Mets and Angels are reportedly interested in Uehara for a relief role, while the Orioles like him as a starter. Sponichi quotes Baltimore exec as saying, “There are a lot of good experienced professional players in Japan. Uehara? He’s one of them”. Sponichi also speculates that the Brewers might be a good fit given the potential departure of CC Sabathia.
My wild guess of a prediction for Uehara is the Cardinals. Dave Duncan has a way of getting the best of his staff, and the Cards could use him in a swingman role. What kind of contract he commands will really depend on whether teams view him as a starter or a reliever.