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Orioles re-sign reliever Koji Uehara to one-year deal

Dec 9, 2010, 10:49 AM EDT

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Two weeks ago Baltimore declined to offer arbitration to Koji Uehara because it would have meant committing to a raise on his $5 million salary, but the Orioles have now re-signed the 35-year-old reliever to a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2012.

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun the new deal includes $3 million in guarantee money and another $2 million or so in possible incentives.

Uehara reportedly drew interest from a half-dozen teams as a free agent, so by not offering arbitration the Orioles risked losing him without receiving a compensatory draft pick in return, but the move ultimately worked out well as they lowered the upfront money and also potentially secured his rights for 2012.

Uehara struggled to stay healthy as a starter, but transitioned to the bullpen full time this year and thrived with a 2.86 ERA, .220 opponents’ batting average, and 55-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 innings. He converted 13 saves in 15 chances and will likely enter 2011 as the favorite to claim closer duties.

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