Uehara was sent to the Rangers to help their playoff push, as they won the AL West division on their way to their second straight AL Pennant. At the time, Koji had put up very impressive numbers in the Orioles bullpen, which had increased his trade value. In 43 games, he pitched to a 1.72 ERA with 62 Ks in 47 IP. His immediate impact was not very good for the Rangers, though, as he pitched to a 4.00 ERA for the remainder of the 2011 season and gave up 5 runs in 1 1/3 IP for the team in the postseason. While Uehara was healthy in the 2012 season, he pitched very well for the Rangers, finishing with a 1.75 ERA in 37 games. He threw a scoreless inning in the Rangers loss to the Orioles in the first ever AL Wild Card play in game.
Much has been written about Davis and his performance this season. Last year, however, Davis did hit .270, 33, 85 in 139 games for the Orioles and was a key component to their surprising season. Hunter had struggled as a starter after joining the Orioles, pitching to a 5.06 ERA in 12 games, 11 starts in 2011 and a 5.45 ERA in 33 games, 20 starts in 2011. Considering Uehara's value to the Rangers' bullpen, the deal could have been considered a push, with a slight edge to the Orioles with Davis' power numbers.
Uehara left the Rangers after the 2012 season to sign as a free agent with Boston. The Red Sox added Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates to serve as their closer, joining 2011 addition Andrew Bailey and Uehara in a deep bullpen. Hanrahan and Bailey have both gotten hurt, putting adding extra pressure on Uehara to serve as the team's closer. Uehara has responded by having the best season of his career, going 3-0, 1.32, 12 saves, striking out 75 batters in 54 2/3 IP over 55 games. His 55th game vested a $4.25 million option that will keep him in Boston next season.
The Rangers had the option of keeping Uehara this season. I know this is hypothetical, but any team would benefit from having a reliever pitch as well as he has this season. Davis has become one of the top Orioles offensive players, along with Manny Machado, Adam Jones, JJ Hardy, Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis. Yes, we live in the era where the long ball is loved. But, could it be said that Uehara has provided as much value as Davis has to the Orioles? I think if 100 people were polled, at least 90-95 percent would say Davis has more value than Uehara. Add in the fact that Uehara is pitching for Boston and Hunter has emerged in the Baltimore bullpen, it is hard to dispute the Orioles winning this trade. Put Uehara and his numbers in Texas, perhaps the Rangers have a few more wins. While the deal would be looked at a little differently, the Orioles added a top power hitter to their lineup but getting comparable numbers with Hunter (3-2, 2.89 in 47 games in 2013) to Uehara's 2010 season (1-2, 2.86 in 43 games).