Koji Uehara

Best of the 2010s: Greatest Red Sox transactions of the decade

Best of the 2010s: Greatest Red Sox transactions of the decade

You can't endure the lofty highs and demoralizing lows of the past decade of Red Sox baseball without making some prominent personnel moves. Contenders need to be built. Pretenders need to be torn to the ground. Stars age. Rookies ascend.

The Red Sox, with their tremendous resources, haven't shied from the free agent or trade markets since 2010, with more hits than misses, on total.

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The whiffs have admittedly been brutal — Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Pablo Sandoval spring to mind, along with trading Jon Lester — but we're here to focus on the moves that worked, because you don't win a pair of World Series titles without a bunch of them.

10. Salty trade

Here's a little-noticed gem. At the 2010 trade deadline, GM Theo Epstein made a move with an eye towards the future, acquiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Rangers for minor leaguer Michael Thomas.

All Salty did thereafter was overcome a throwing problem, earn the full-time catching job, and then backstop the 2013 champions practically through the World Series.

His four seasons in Boston included a 25-homer campaign in 2012 and an .804 OPS in 2013.

9. Brock Holt

When the Red Sox acquired closer Joel Hanrahan in 2012 for Mark Melancon and others, they had no way of knowing that the most impactful player in the deal would also be the easiest to overlook.

Utility man Brock Holt had transformed himself from scrawny high school freshman to nondescript big leaguer, but within two years, he'd earn Rookie of the Year votes and then make an All-Star team while adding two World Series rings to his collection. 

8. Rick Porcello trade

Here's a trade that oscillated between visionary and ill-advised, right to the end of Porcello's Red Sox tenure.

Acquired in December of 2014 for slugger Yoenis Cespedes, Porcello almost immediately signed a four-year, $82.5 million extension that was met with a collective, "Huh?!?" across the game. The deal looked like a disaster when he went 9-15 in his Red Sox debut, but a year later he would earn the Cy Young Award after going 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA.

Though he'd never approach those heights again, he did win 17 games in 2018 and another 14 last year as a dependable, every-fifth-day starter.

7. E-Rod trade

When also-rans trade useful veterans to a contender for prospects, this is how they hope things work out.

The 2014 deal that sent left-hander Andrew Miller to Baltimore was a win for the Orioles, because he went 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA and then didn't allow a run in five postseason appearances.

Still, it paid even greater dividends for the Red Sox, who have watched Rodriguez blossom into a 19-win starter with perhaps the best pure stuff in the rotation.

6. Craig Kimbrel

Dave Dombrowski set the tone for how he'd conduct business by shipping four prospects to the Padres for the former Braves All-Star.

And though Kimbrel contributed some high-profile meltdowns — the entire 2018 postseason was basically a tightrope — he still saved 108 games over three seasons, making All-Star teams each time.

His 2017 rivaled Uehara's 2013 for dominance, as he went 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA and a staggering 126 strikeouts in only 69 innings.

5. Koji Uehara signing

Talk about some agate type that barely registered on the transaction wire.

On Dec. 18, 2012, the Red Sox signed Uehara as a free agent. The rest of baseball barely noticed, still buzzing over the trade a day earlier that had sent Cy Young knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from the Mets to Blue Jays.

Uehara earned $4.25 million with the Red Sox, who had no way of knowing when they signed him that a man with only one save a year earlier would end up closing out the World Series following one of the most dominant bullpen seasons ever: a 1.09 ERA and over 100 strikeouts vs. just nine walks.

4. J.D. Martinez signing

Dombrowski didn't just build his roster through trades.

In addition to spending $217 million on David Price — a transaction that doesn't make this list — he also landed the successor to David Ortiz without overpaying him one cent.

Martinez languished all winter in 2018, finally agreeing to join the Red Sox in spring training. He then proceeded to justify his five-year, $110 million deal practically in Year 1 alone, challenging for a Triple Crown and solidifying the heart of the order.

We thought he'd opt out this winter, but he stayed put after another All-Star season.

3. Chris Sale trade

John Henry hired old friend Dombrowski to be a man of action, and the longtime executive lived up to that billing, striking a trade for one of the best pitchers in baseball before the 2017 season.

The cost — top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — was steep, and has since kickstarted a rebuild in Chicago, but it also helped produce a title in 2018.

Sale went 29-12 with a 2.56 ERA in his first two seasons in Boston, starting two All-Star Games and closing one World Series, before injuries struck last season. But that does little to diminish Sale's impact.

2. The 2013 offseason

Rather than single out one particular transaction, let us take that entire winter as a whole.

Fresh off the Dodgers deal, the Red Sox needed to restock without mortgaging the future. Then-GM Ben Cherington made a series of targeted strikes on the veteran market, adding Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, David Ross, and Koji Uehara.

All they did was win 96 games and roll to a shocking "Boston Strong" World Series, still one of the most satisfying titles of Boston's post-2000 renaissance.

1. The Dodgers trade

In many ways, the past two Red Sox titles can be traced to the August, 2012 deal that shipped more than a quarter billion dollars of malcontents (plus Nick Punto!) to the West Coast, allowing the Red Sox space to breathe and begin rebuilding around their farm system.

Gonzalez was the centerpiece, but Crawford and Josh Beckett joined him (plus Nick Punto!). Cherington used the savings to build the 2013 champs, which bought him time to develop the next generation of stars, including Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Best performances from Boston athletes after turning 40 years old

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Best performances from Boston athletes after turning 40 years old

Tom Brady is defying the odds. 

The Patriots quarterback is celebrating his 42nd birthday Saturday and the GOAT is still one of the best players in the NFL. His peers just ranked him as No. 6 on the Top 100 players from the 2018 season.

But Brady isn't ready to call it quits. He has repeatedly cited a desire to play until he's 45, and it would be foolish to bet against him at this point.

He's already had more success after turning 40 than most quarterbacks do over their entire career, but he's not the only athlete to not just play, but thrive, after age 40.

From Robert Parish to Ted Williams to Zdeno Chara to David Ortiz, Boston sports history is full of great seasons from the "over-the-hill" set.

Click here for our list of the best performances from Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots after turning 40 years old.>>>>>

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Xander Bogaerts honors Koji Uehara on Instagram after retirement

Xander Bogaerts honors Koji Uehara on Instagram after retirement

Former Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has called it a career. Uehara last pitched in the MLB for the Chicago Cubs in 2017, and he announced his retirement from baseball in Japan.

Uehara, 44, had most recently played for the Yomiuri Giants, the franchise he began his career with back in 1999.

After Uehara's retirement, Xander Bogaerts took a moment to honor Uehara with a touching Instagram post.

Bogaerts had been effusive in his praise of his former teammate over the years. Recently, Bogaerts said that the Red Sox wouldn't have won the 2013 World Series without Uehara's performance.

"The ’13 team was a big success because of him," said Bogaerts, per Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe.

In his four-year career with the Red Sox, Uehara posted a 14-13 record with a 2.16 ERA, 291 strikeouts, and 79 saves. During the 2013 postseason, he recorded 7 saves and struck out 17 batters en route to winning the ALCS MVP award.

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