Reliever Agrees To One-Year Deal With Vesting Option For Second Year
The Orioles today announced that they have signed free agent RHP Koji Uehara to a one-year contract for 2011, with a vesting option for the 2012 season.
Uehara, 35, went 1-2 with 13 saves and a 2.86 ERA (44.0IP, 14ER) in 2010. He led AL relievers in fewest walks per 9.0 innings (1.02) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (11-to-1) and was second with 11.25 strikeouts per 9.0 innings.
Uehara set a franchise record by not walking a batter in his final 32 appearances (34.0IP) to end the season. His current streak of 44 strikeouts since allowing a walk is tied for sixth-most in the majors since 1920.
Uehara became the first Japanese-born player in Orioles franchise history in 2009 after spending 10 seasons (1999-2008) with the Japanese Central League’s Yomiuri Giants, going 112-62 with a 3.01 ERA (1549.0IP, 518ER). He spent the majority of his Nippon Professional Baseball career as a starter, recording 56 complete games in 207 starting assignments. Uehara fanned 1,376 batters and walked only 206 in 276 career games for the Giants, a 6.68 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
The list of awards Uehara received in his NPB career include Rookie of the Year honors in 1999 and the Sawamura Award, the NPB’s equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young Award, in 1999 & 2002. He was also a two-time Top Nine Award winner (1999 & 2002), given to the NPB’s best all-around starting pitcher, and an eight-time All-Star (1999-2005, 2007).
Uehara’s name is pronounced “oo - eh -- ara.”