Koji trade updated
In an attempt to fill holes in the rotation and at first base for now and in the future, the Orioles have acquired first baseman Chris Davis and right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter from the Texas Rangers for reliever Koji Uehara and roughly $2 million.
The deal is pending approval from Major League Baseball because it involves an exchange of more than $1 million. The Orioles have not officially confirmed the trade.
Uehara, 36, developed into one of the best relievers in baseball this season, going 1-1 with a 1.72 ERA in 43 appearances. He walked eight batters and struck out 62 while allowing just 25 hits in 47 innings pitched.
But the Orioles apparently felt it was necessary to deal Uehara – arguably their best trade chip – in order to get two young players with major league experience.
Davis, 25, has three homers in 72 at-bats for the Rangers. He has 42 career homers, including 38 in his first two seasons in 2008 and 2009. But a low average (.248 in parts of four seasons) and an alarmingly high strikeout rate (301 times in 878 at-bats) has kept him shuttling between the majors and Triple-A in the past two seasons. Davis was a fifth-round pick of Texas in 2006.
Hunter, 25, is 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA in eight games this year. He is 23-13 lifetime as a big leaguer and was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA in 2010. He missed the first 82 games this season with a groin injury and has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen once he returned to the majors. He was the 54th overall pick by the Rangers in 2007.
The acquisition of Davis, who can also DH, puts the already precarious future of fist baseman Derrek Lee in further doubt.
Lee came out in the eighth inning of Saturday’s first game and was not in the lineup for the second game. The 36-year-old Lee is batting .248 with 12 homers this season.
Potential fits for Lee would be the Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Uehara made $3 million in 2011 and had $4 million option for 2012 that vests with 12 more appearances (55 total). He was the Orioles’ first Japan-born player when they signed him to a two-year free agent deal before the 2009 season.
In three seasons with the Orioles, Uehara was 4-7 with a 3.03 ERA in 98 games, including 12 starts and 41 games finished. He was 13 of 15 in save opportunities in 2010.
The Rangers wanted to shore up their bullpen, and Uehara seemed like a fit. However, he has battled with difficulty pitching in the heat during his career, with the worst example coming in May 2010 in Arlington, in which he was bathed in sweat during an appearance. .