8:03pm: The A's bid about $17MM, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
10:25am: The Athletics won the bidding on Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma, MLB announced (via Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports on Twitter). Last night, Iwakuma's agent Don Nomura appeared to tweet the same. The A's now have 30 days to hammer out a contract with Iwakuma. Iwakuma's team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, are expected to accept the bid, tweets NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman. He adds that the Athletics and Golden Eagles already have a working relationship. The Rangers and Mariners also submitted bids, according to Ken Rosenthal.
There's been speculation that Rakuten wanted roughly $18MM in a posting fee, but we really don't know what the A's bid. Iwakuma could be a fairly risky signing with a contract on top. Rosenthal suggested Saturday that the A's may be trying to create a pitching surplus, which for me conjures memories of their unexpected Esteban Loaiza signing five years ago.
Iwakuma, 30 in April, posted a 2.82 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, and 0.49 HR/9 in 201 innings this year. In August, Newman rated him as "the second best MLB pitching prospect currently active in NPB" in a FanGraphs article. He described Iwakuma as "a fairly standard fastball/slider/forkball righty." ESPN's Keith Law ranked Iwakuma as seventh-best free agent starter available, pegging him as a solid No. 4.