The Red Sox started by signing the closer for the last season and a half, Koji Uehara, to a two-year contract worth $18 million on Thursday. The 39-year-old will likely remain the closer in Boston until this deal ends in 2016 unless his decline continues in 2015.
Uehara had one of the best seasons as a reliever in MLB history in 2013 with a 1.09 ERA in 73 games with the Red Sox. He notched 21 saves while striking out 101 batters and walking just nine.
In 2014, the veteran had 26 saves, but went 6-55 with a 2.52 ERA. The 80:8 K:BB ratio is still one of the best in the league, but he was shutdown for most of September due to the extra workload the closer had in 2013 and at the start of the 2014 season. He blew several save opportunities down the stretch, but should be able to be a reliable option at the back of the Red Sox bullpen.
On Friday, the Red Sox also declined an option to keep Craig Breslow on the team. In 2013, the lefty went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA in 60 games for the Red Sox. He walked 28 and struck out 37 in his 54.1 innings of work.
Over his three years with Boston, 2013 was his best season and his role helped the Red Sox win the World Series. During the World Series run, the 34-year-old went 5-2 during the regular season with a 1.81 ERA. His recent struggles with location and velocity probably led to the Red Sox wanting to look to other players to fill up the bullpen in 2015.