Hichori Morimoto Rumors

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.