4:58pm: Slusser writes that the figure Iwakuma was said to be seeking was including the posting fee. She also notes that Iwakuma wasn't looking for the same number of years as Zito, just the same annual salary. Oakland, on the other hand, was thinking somewhere along the lines of a $3MM-$5MM salary.
The A's are also looking for a power hitter, and one thought was that signing Iwakuma could have made Oakland a more appealing destination for Hideki Matsui.
Slusser says she recently spoke with a scout who saw Iwakuma pitch in Japan, and described the 29-year-old as "Nothing special. Just a guy." With Iwakuma presumably out of the picture, Slusser says a healthy Outman would be the frontrunner for the fifth starter job. The 26-year-old lefty was having a strong season in 2009 before he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2010.
While the A's will have until December 7 to make a decision on Iwakuma, Slusser's sources have told her that Iwakuma was seeking something similar to Barry Zito's seven-year, $126MM contract with the Giants to sign in Oakland, which the A's are obviously unwilling to do. Iwakuma is preparing to announce his return to the Rakuten Golden Eagles at an upcoming fan fest.
If Iwakuma's demands don't come down, the A's will be down one fifth starter option, having traded Vin Mazzaro to Kansas City in exchange for David DeJesus. Slusser says the A's will then approach the season with Josh Outman, Tyson Ross, and Bobby Cramer as fifth starter candidates, barring a free agent signing of course.
It's not unthinkable that the A's would venture to free agency to find a suitable replacement; they clearly have the money to spend on pitching should they see fit. Oakland bid around $17MM to win the rights to negotiate with Iwakuma, but that amount will be returned if no deal is reached.