Hisashi Iwakuma Rumors
While Ben Cherington was the only GM that was in attendance for Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez's audition yesterday, the Red Sox aren't the only team with interest in the Cuban right-hander. The Dodgers sent three of their top scouts to Tijuana on Thursday to find out if they might have another exciting Cuban import to join Yasiel Puig, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Agent Jaime Torres declined to say how many clubs sent representatives to the Tijuana showcase but said there was "a great turnout." Meanwhile, Gonzalez is scheduled to put on another display for teams next Friday where he could pitch five innings, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Here's more from around baseball..
- After designating him for assignment on Tuesday, Mets assistant GM John Ricco acknowledged that the club is soliciting trade offers for Collin Cowgill, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Ricco added that the Mets would try to get Cowgill through waivers and send him to Triple-A Las Vegas if they were unable to get a suitable deal rather than release Cowgill.
- Hisashi Iwakuma's name has popped up in rumors, but the Mariners intend to hang on to him. "Trust me," M's GM Jack Zduriencik told Peter Gammons (on Twitter), "we're not going to trade him." The 32-year-old has a 2.06 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 through 15 starts this season.
- Diamondbacks right-hander Randall Delgado hired Beverly Hills Sports Council, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). You can look up agency info for just about every major leaguer with MLBTR's Agency Database.
Today we celebrate Veterans Day, a day to recognize every person who serves our nation valiantly in the defense of our freedom and liberty whether it be in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, or National Guard. Thank you kindly to all who have served and are currently serving at home and overseas. John Schlegel of MLB.com explains how the national pastime is forever linked with the nation's armed forces and uses, as an example, the statue of Jerry Coleman erected by the Padres this past September. The pose wasn't inspired by Coleman's playing days or by his Hall of Fame broadcasting career, but of his tour of duty as a Marine pilot during World War II. Here's the latest news on the Padres and the other NL and AL West division teams:
- Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune believes it would take at least four years and $36-40MM to extend NL MVP finalist Chase Headley. Last month, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined the parameters of an extension for Headley.
- Also from Center's recent online chat with fans, the Padres could use their bullpen depth to acquire starting pitching with Luke Gregerson being a prime trade chip. If Gregerson is dealt, Andrew Cashner and Brad Brach would be internal candidates to take over as closer if Huston Street suffered an injury, according to Center.
- The Dodgers could place Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano on the trading block if they are able to sign Hyun-Jin Ryu and are satisfied Ted Lilly has recovered from shoulder surgery or Chad Billingsley has avoided Tommy John elbow surgery after suffering a partially torn ligament, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
- The best and only chance for new Rockies manager Walt Weiss to succeed is to change the defeatist mind-set about the altitude and make it their greatest home-field advantage, opines Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post.
- Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will not participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, so as to better focus on his second season with the Mariners, writes Greg Johns of MLB.com referencing a report from Japan's Kyodo News Agency. Iwakuma, who recently signed an extension with the Mariners, joins countryman Yu Darvish in deciding not to pitch for Japan, the two-time WBC defending champion.
11:30pm: Iwakuma's deal is worth at least $14MM over two years, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The right-hander will get $6.5MM in 2013, $6.5MM in 2014, and a $1MM buyout if his $7MM option for 2015 is declined.
10:13pm: The Mariners announced that they have agreed to a new deal with right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma that will extend him through 2014 with an option for 2015. Iwakuma is a client of the Wasserman Media Group.
Seattle had exclusive negoatiating rights with the pitcher through tomorrow night. If General Manager Jack Zduriencik did not reach agreement with Iwakuma by the deadline then the hurler would not have been able to pitch until May 15th.
The M's inked Iwakuma to a one-year, $1.5MM deal last year and did well in his debut MLB season. The 31-year-old 3.16 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 16 starts and 14 relief appearances.
Here's the latest from Seattle....
- Chris Woodward has retired from playing and has been hired as the Mariners' minor league infield coordinator, according to a team press release. Woodward was a 54th-round raft pick of the Blue Jays in 1994 but managed to play 12 seasons in the majors with the Jays, Mets, Braves, Red Sox and Mariners, usually as a backup infielder. The 36-year-old played with the Mariners in 2009-10 and spent last year at the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
- A clause in Hisashi Iwakuma's contract gives the M's exclusive rights to the right-hander through Saturday, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns, whereas other free agents are available to other teams at 11 PM CST on Thursday. The extra day of exclusivity comes at a price, however, as if the M's re-sign Iwakuma after their extended negotiating period, Iwakuma wouldn't be able to pitch until May 15.
- Also from Johns' mailbag piece, he notes that the M's will look to increase payroll from last year's $83MM total and that the club could look to sign a veteran catcher on a minor league deal to add some depth given that Jesus Montero will primarily be a DH next year.
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times disagrees with Tim Dierkes' prediction that none of the top 50 free agents will sign with the Mariners this winter, arguing that the M's will have enough available payroll space to sign at least one notable free agent.
News from around the majors as we head into the very last weekend of the 2012 season...
- Former Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez is believed to be on the Marlins' short list of managerial candidates, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Gonzalez is currently a special assistant with the D'Backs and he spent his final season with Miami in 2008.
- Candidates for the Marlins job are being interviewed separately by front office personnel and by owner Jeffrey Loria, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Loria and his staff will convene after the World Series and then make a decision.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his team will be focused on upgrading the bullpen and adding an experienced starter this winter, though the latter won't be at a large price. “We’re just not adding any veteran. It has to be the right move for us. I know Doug [Melvin] and his staff would like to add another veteran starter. I don’t know how or where that’s going to come from," said Attanasio. “We’ve got a lot of good young pitchers coming up from the minor leagues, so we may find our answers there.”
- Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux hasn't yet been contacted about any managerial openings, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Maddux was interviewed for the Cubs job last winter turned down an interview with the Red Sox.
- The Mariners "will make a strong push" to re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns, who also notes that Iwakuma expressed in returning to Seattle earlier this year. Iwakuma signed a one-year, $1.5MM deal with the M's last winter and performed well in his first season in North America, posting a 3.16 ERA and a 7.3 K/9 rate in 30 games (16 of them starts). Those numbers included significant home-road splits, so it's no surprise that Iwakuma would want to continue pitching at Safeco Field.
- Tim Bogar turned down an offer to be the Astros' bench coach due to a contract clause that would've prohibited Bogar from interviewing for managerial jobs, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Bogar has been connected to manager jobs over the last few years, including the Astros job itself that eventually went to Bo Porter. Bogar served as the Red Sox bench coach last season, though he won't be returning to Boston, as Torey Lovullo will serve as bench coach under new manager John Farrell.
The Athletics and Angels are currently positioned as the American League's two Wild Card teams. Both clubs made trades with the Brewers in anticipation of the non-waiver trade deadline, but the Angels' acquisition (Zack Greinke) led to considerably more headlines than the player the A's obtained (George Kottaras). Here's the latest on the other two AL West teams...
- Sosnick Cobbe Sports no longer represents Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). Agent Paul Cobbe said it made sense for the sides to end their business relationship because of some personal differences.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels will look out for possible August trade targets this month, Bryan Dolgin of ESPNDallas.com writes. "It's unusual to find an everyday player, a starting pitcher, but you can find some quality role players or relief pitchers out there," Daniels said.
- Recently-acquired Rangers starter Ryan Dempster said on ESPN 1000's The Waddle & Silvy Show that he never turned down a trade to Atlanta (link via ESPNChicago.com). "All I asked for was more time on one particular trade," the right-hander said. The Cubs sent Dempster to Texas for minor league third baseman Christian Villanueva and minor league right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
10:57pm: Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports (on Twitter) that the incentives kick in at 20 starts, at which point Iwakuma will be paid a $200K bonus. He will make $250K for 22 starts, $300K for 25 starts, and $400K for 30 starts. The innings bonuses kick in at 140 IP, and he can earn another $400K for 200 IP.
Iwakuma spent four days in Seattle back in December according to Baker, during which time he met GM Jack Zduriencik and was shown around town. He didn't speak to Ichiro Suzuki before signing, says Baker (on Twitter).
7:35pm: The Mariners have agreed to sign right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma to a one-year contract worth $1.5MM, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (all Twitter links). The deal includes $3.4MM in incentives based on starts and innings pitched. We heard the two sides were closing in on a deal earlier this week. Iwakuma is a Sosnick-Cobbe client.
The Rakuten Golden Eagles posted the 30-year-old righty a year ago and the A's won the rights to negotiate with him for $19.1MM. However, the sides didn't work out a deal and Iwakuma re-signed with Rakuten. He posted a 2.42 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 119 innings in 2011 and became a true free agent after the season. He figures to join Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, and Michael Pineda in Seattle's rotation with Blake Beavan and Charlie Furbush as candidates for the fifth spot.
WEDNESDAY, 9:49am: The Mariners are very close to a deal with Iwakuma, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
TUESDAY, 5:06pm: The Mariners are the leading suitor for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, according to a Sponichi report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. Iwakuma has drawn interest from a number of teams, but seems to be favoring Seattle.
"We've received terms from a number of clubs, but considering where I'm needed and an environment my family can live in, at present we're closest to a contract with the Mariners," Iwakuma said.
The Rakuten Golden Eagles posted Iwakuma a year ago and the A's won the rights to negotiate with him for $19.1MM. However, the sides didn't work out a deal and Iwakuma re-signed with Rakuten. The 30-year-old posted a 2.42 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 119 innings in 2011.
2:28pm: The Orioles are in on Iwakuma, MLBTR has learned. New GM Dan Duquette has been active internationally, signing Tsuyoshi Wada and showing interest in Wei-Yin Chen, Yoenis Cespedes, and Chong Tae-Hyon.
The Mariners rumor has been kicking around in Japanese reports since Friday. A week ago, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that four teams inquired on Iwakuma, with the Athletics in that mix but with "lukewarm" interest. Iwakuma may have been on the Twins' radar, though they added Jason Marquis in late December. Both teams bid on him in 2010 via the posting process. The A's won with a $19.1MM bid, but could not work out a contract with Iwakuma.
Iwakuma, a member of the Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2011, posted a 2.42 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, and 0.45 HR/9 in 119 innings, battling a shoulder injury.
MONDAY: Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics are "lukewarm" on Iwakuma, but there are two teams with "viable" interest in the right-hander. Oakland is not one of them, however.
SUNDAY: There are four teams talking to free agent Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, according to Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). The Athletics, who won the bidding on Iwakuma last winter but couldn't work out a contract, are one of the four, says Stiglich.
The Rakuten Golden Eagles posted Iwakuma a year ago, but ultimately re-signed him after the righty was unable to agree to a deal with the A's. Oakland bid about $19.1MM for the right to exclusively negotiate with Iwakuma, but were reluctant to commit the type of salary the pitcher was seeking on top of the posting fee.
Iwakuma has now reached free agency, so the Sosnick-Cobbe client can sign a contract with any MLB club. Besides the A's, the Twins may be one of the four clubs involved. They placed second in the Iwakuma bidding last year, and were said to have him on their radar last month. Perhaps the Orioles are in as well -- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun wrote this week that Dan Duquette is "exceptionally well-versed in international players," and the O's have targeted arms such as Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chin since the new GM's arrival.