Discussion: Akinori Iwamura

Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura faces a $4.85MM club option for 2010 with a $550K buyout, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.  Topkin notes that under the terms of his contract, Iwamura will become a free agent if the Rays decline the option (despite not having six years of service time).

A healthy Iwamura should easily be worth that amount; he was in 2007 and 2008.  However, he was limited to 260 plate appearances this year due to a knee injury.  What's more, the Rays are tight on payroll and have other strong options at second base.

Topkin noted that Iwamura would discuss renegotiating the option at a lower price, because he loves the Tampa area.  That might be hard to resist.  But if the Rays prefer to move on, they could attempt to exercise the option and then trade Iwamura.  According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, Japanese newspaper Sanspo is already speculating on the Dodgers as a fit.

Iwamura still appears capable of a .350 OBP and acceptable defense at second base (he also played third base in '07).  If he reaches free agency or becomes available in trade, which teams make sense?  Aside from the Dodgers, the White Sox, Indians, Tigers, Twins, and Diamondbacks could consider him.

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