Hisashi Iwakuma Rumors

Quick Hits: Marlins, Brewers, Maddux, Iwakuma

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.

AL West Notes: Iwakuma, Rangers, Dempster

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.

Mariners Agree To Sign Hisashi Iwakuma

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.

Mariners Very Close To Deal With Hisashi Iwakuma

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.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported yesterday that the Orioles are in on Iwakuma. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that another American League team was pursuing the Sosnick/Cobbe client.

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.

Mariners, Orioles In On Hisashi Iwakuma

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.

2:03pm: The Mariners and two other American League teams are in the hunt for free agent starter Hisashi Iwakuma, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

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.

Two Teams Have “Viable” Interest In Iwakuma

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.

Morosi On Fielder, Randy Wells, Guthrie

A "tense three-week period that will shape [baseball's] landscape for the following year" begins today, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  His latest:

  • Agent Scott Boras has pared down Prince Fielder's sales pitch binder but still has 70 pages worth, he tells Morosi.  Morosi says Fielder's suitors are believed to be the Cubs, Nationals, Rangers, and Mariners.
  • The Cubs are open to moving Randy Wells, indicates Morosi as he lists available starting pitchers.  Wells, 29, is under team control through 2014.  MLBTR projects him to earn $2.2MM in 2012.  
  • The Angels and Orioles discussed the possibility of a Jeremy Guthrie trade in recent days.  Guthrie, 33 in April, projects to earn $8.3MM in 2012 before hitting free agency.
  • Japanese players including righty Hisashi Iwakuma, lefties Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen, and second baseman Kensuke Tanaka can begotiate with MLB teams after free agency in Japan begins Thursday.  The Yakult Swallows intend to post outfielder Norichika Aoki after the Winter Meetings, adds Morosi.

Twins Notes: Ryan, Krivsky, Iwakuma

The Twins replaced general manager Bill Smith today, announcing that longtime GM Terry Ryan will run the team once again — at least for the interim. Here’s more on the Twins' front office, plus some hints about the composition of the 2012 roster:

  • Ryan said he anticipates a payroll of roughly $100MM next year, according to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter links).
  • Ryan confirmed that former Reds GM and Twins assistant GM Wayne Krivsky will join Minnesota’s front office, according to Bollinger.
  • Hisashi Iwakuma, the Japanese right-hander who nearly signed with the Athletics last offseason, is on the Twins’ radar, according to Bollinger. Minnesota bid on the 30-year-old a year ago, but Oakland earned his rights through the posting system. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes placed Iwakuma 22nd on his list of top free agents, ahead of Kelly Johnson, Josh Willingham and many others. Tim’s predicted destination for Iwakuma: the Twins.
  • Ryan said he won't make any changes to the team's coaching staff unless manager Ron Gardenhire wants to bring in different people, according to Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 (on Twitter).
  • For a detailed look at the challenges the Twins face this winter, here's my offseason outlook piece.

Quick Hits: White Sox, Indians, Sabathia, Sizemore

A grab-bag of links on the first Sunday of what should be a fun offseason….

  • Don't expect the White Sox to pick up any big-ticket players on the free agent market, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin.  The club is unlikely to bring Juan Pierre back in 2012 and if they look to replace him with a traditional leadoff type, Merkin expects the team to do so via trade.
  • It would be a surprise if the Indians re-signed Chad Durbin as the club has several promising young relievers who could take his spot, writes Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer.
  • The Yankees will make a contract offer to C.C. Sabathia this weekend, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman. However, most people expect the lefty to opt out of his current deal and "look around."
  • Newsday's Ken Davidoff predicts destinations and contract details for his top 30 free agents, in slideshow form.
  • The Rangers, Nationals, and Brewers top Buster Olney's list of potential landing spots for Grady Sizemore (ESPN insider link).
  • Hisashi Iwakuma confirmed that he will attempt to sign with an MLB team again this winter, according to NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman (via Sponichi). Iwakuma was unable to work out a deal with the Athletics last offseason.
  • New Angels GM Jerry Dipoto will have complete decision-making power, says Angels owner Arte Moreno. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times has details and quotes.
  • The Padres will hire Phil Plantier as their new hitting coach, tweets FOX's Ken Rosenthal.

Pohlad Talks About Twins’ Future

Twins owner Jim Pohlad spoke to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about the future of the team.  A few highlights:

  • Smith blames the Twins' disastrous 2011 season on "the perfect storm of injuries" as well as players failing to match their 2010 performances.  He also admitted there were fundamental issues with players called up from the minors.
  • Manager Ron Gardenhire and GM Bill Smith will be back in 2012, with Pohlad noting that the Twins are not a "knee-jerk reaction organization."
  • Told about the potential $40MM+ the Twins have coming off the books, Pohlad said, "Well if what you just said, if that's true, that gives us tons of flexibility."  The owner also said, "My guess is we're probably going to have to do more than one impact player."
  • Pohlad was noncommittal on bringing back Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, and gave a non-answer regarding the team renewing their interest in Hisashi Iwakuma.  Said Pohlad, "I think probably everybody is on our radar."
  • Pohlad says the team's $115MM payroll is "going to come down naturally" but it won't be slashed and will be "right up there."
  • Based on our arbitration estimates, a $105MM payroll could give the Twins about $30MM to spend in 2012 salaries.