Report: Cubs close to signing former Red Sox closer Koji Uehara

Report: Cubs close to signing former Red Sox closer Koji Uehara

The Cubs are reportedly close to adding another former closer to their bullpen.

Theo Epstein's front office indicated they were not done adding pieces to Joe Maddon's bullpen after trading for Wade Davis Wednesday, and they are apparently on the verge of acquiring Koji Uehara as well:

Uehara will turn 42 the day after the Cubs' first game in 2017, but he has been very, very good in his big-league career.

In eight seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, Uehara has a career 2.53 ERA and ridiculous 0.864 WHIP while striking out 522 batters in only 437.2 innings. He also has 93 saves, all but 14 of which have come in the last four seasons in Boston.

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Uehara posted a 3.45 ERA last year but still had a sparkling 0.957 WHIP and gave up only 34 hits in 47 innings with 63 strikeouts. 

From 2013-15, Uehara had a 1.86 ERA, 0.771 WHIP and 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

The Neyagawa, Osaka, Japan native pitched in his home country for the Yomiuri Giants from 1999 to 2008, working mostly as a starter and winning 112 games with a 3.01 ERA in 1,549 innings.

Throughout his MLB career, Uehara has been better against left-handed hitters (.183 AVG, .555 OPS) than righties (.208 AVG, .603 OPS) and that gap was even larger in 2016: righties posted an .812 OPS against him while lefties sported only a .478 OPS.

That will help give the Cubs an effective option against left-handed hitters with few southpaws at their disposal.

Uehara figures to provide another late-inning option for Maddon to play around with alongside Davis, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr.

He closed out the Red Sox championship in 2013, giving the 2017 Cubs three of the last four pitchers to get the final out of the World Series (Uehara in 2013, Davis in 2015 and Mike Montgomery in 2016).

Cubs unveil championship Trophy Tour

Cubs unveil championship Trophy Tour

The Cubs announced their World Series championship victory lap Thursday afternoon.

The Cubs Trophy Tour presented by State Farm will take the World Series hardware around throughout the Midwest, beyond just the Chicagoland area.

“We’re excited to share our cherished trophy with fans this offseason as we celebrate such a historic World Series Championship,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “This year’s World Championship team is unparalleled, and so are our fans. We can’t wait for them to experience the joy of seeing this piece of history in person.”

The tour begins Friday, Dec. 9 at the official Cubs Team Store on Michigan Ave. from Noon to 3 p.m.

From there, the trophy gets the weekend off before surfacing again Thursday, Dec. 15 at Chicago City Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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The Trophy Tour hits the road after that, with stops in central Illinois; the Quad Cities; South Bend and Indianapolis; Des Moines, Iowa and other Midwest locations.

Of course, the trophy will also be with the Cubs in spring training in Mesa, Ariz. and at Wrigley Field for the Cubs' home opener on April 10.

Check out Cubs.com/trophytour for more info, including a schedule, social media post and highlights from each stop along the way. 

Also be sure to follow @Cubs on Twitter and Instagram for more updates while CSN will document the Trophy Tour.