Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma hired Paul Cobbe of Sosnick-Cobbe Sports as his new agent several months ago, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Iwakuma, who will be a free agent after the season, intends to make another attempt to join an MLB club this winter. You can keep track of all the representation changes with MLBTR's Agency Database.
The Rakuten Golden Eagles posted Iwakuma last year, with the Athletics winning the right to negotiate with him for a reported $19.1MM. The team has been through tough times since having to return that posting fee after talks with the A's broke down. The Eagles are from Sendai, a city that was ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March.
Iwakuma's former agent, Don Nomura, said after talks broke off that the A's "never showed any respect" toward his client. He took a jab at the team on Twitter as well, calling their pursuit of Adrian Beltre "just a PR" move. Nomura wanted $12MM a year, while the A's were thinking $3-5MM per year given the commitment they made on the posting fee. The situation was considered an embarrassment for Rakuten and cost Nomura the client.
Crasnick notes that Iwakuma battled a shoulder injury this year. If that's behind him, there's a case to be made that he'll be one of the five best starting pitchers on the free agent market this winter, perhaps commanding three or four years at a salary approaching $10MM per. This year Iwakuma has a 1.67 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, and 0.33 HR/9 in 54 innings. He'll turn 31 in April.
Sosnick-Cobbe also represents Darrell Rasner and Randy Messenger, a couple of American-born pitchers who have sub-3.00 ERAs this year in Japan. I spoke to Sosnick today about the agency's efforts in Japan, and he told me, "We opened an office in Tokyo that we think will serve our Japanese and American clients well. The fact that Paul Cobbe speaks some Japanese has been a huge advantage for us."