Morimoto And Iwakuma Qualify For Free Agency

Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker passes along a pair of reports indicating that Hichori Morimoto and Hisashi Iwakuma have accrued enough service time in Japan to qualify for domestic free agency. 

Morimoto, a 29-year-old center fielder for the Nippon Ham Fighters, said “I’m interested, you know, in America”, before adding, “I care about how other teams evaluate me, but playing for the Fighters is the best.” A winner of multiple Gold Gloves, the speedy Morimoto is hitting .301/.348/.406 with just three steals this year, but he's a .275 hitter with a .327 OBP with 65 steals in his four seasons as a full-time player. 

Iwakuma is a 29-year-old starting pitcher that opened eyes with three dominant starts (and one relief appearance) in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The righthander has posted a 2.72 ERA in 102.2 innings for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles this year, and he owns a 3.36 ERA in more than eight years of NPB experience.

Newman mentions that Iwakuma is under contract for next season, but expects him to make the move to MLB following the 2011 season as long as he remains healthy and effective. He is represented by IMG.

9 Responses to Morimoto And Iwakuma Qualify For Free Agency Leave a Reply

  1. TytheSportsGuy 5 years ago

    Call me nuts, but this off-season I’d want Iwakuma over Cliff Lee. Iwakuma is cheaper and younger.

    • NUTS!!!!!! Because Iwakuma is signed until after the next season, and wont be a free agent this year.

  2. Kyle_W 5 years ago

    Iwakuma is definitely better then Kuroda, Kawakami, and Uehara. I watch most every Eagles game. To me Iwakuma is second only to Darvish in the NPB.

  3. jamesfleming12 5 years ago

    Can an MLB team buy out Iwakuma’s contract from the Golden Eagles for next year and sign him?

  4. aap212 5 years ago

    If Morimoto can only put up those numbers in Japan, what could he possibly do here? Not many teams are clamoring for a poor man’s Tsuyoshi Shinjo.

    • Yankees420 5 years ago

      Maybe be a 4th OF that can field all 3 positions well and has some speed, certainly not an all star, but still possibly some value.

  5. aap212 5 years ago

    If Morimoto can only put up those numbers in Japan, what could he possibly do here? Not many teams are clamoring for a poor man’s Tsuyoshi Shinjo.

  6. Yankees420 5 years ago

    I’m very weary of pitchers from Japan trying to make the jump to MLB, I dunno, maybe it’s because of Igawa, but I would just be very concerned for my team to invest long term and big money for a Japanese pitcher.

    • Fullgatsu 5 years ago

      Well Igawa was a Yankees scouting failure, Igawa really didn’t have the tools to succeed in MLB and quite often struggled in the NPB. Hanshin Tigers fan haven’t really missed him since he left and thay have had some really bad rotations. Also one don’t have to overpay the posting fee and if Iwakuma makes a jump it will probably be through free agency and contract similiar to Kuroda seems right.

      Iwakuma should not be compared to Igawa as they differ alot. Iwakuma is a groundball pitcher with a good K/BB and have been better then Darvish atleast one season though he have had some arm problems that have hinder his effectiveness before. With that said I don’t want Iwakuma to leave NPB as he plays for my favorite team there.

      I would love to see Watanabe Shunsuke go to MLB because it needs more submariners in the rotation.

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