Hisashi Iwakuma Rumors
On this day last year the Rangers agreed to sign Vladimir Guerrero to a one-year, $5MM deal. In 2011, the veteran continues to look for a home with the Orioles, Angels, and Rays said to be interested. Let's take a look at the batch of links for tonight..
- Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report is glad that the Rangers didn't overpay to land Matt Garza. The right-hander was shipped to the Cubs in an eight-player deal.
- Speaking of the Garza deal, Dave Cameron writes in a piece for Fangraphs that there's a good chance that the Rays got better in the short term by making the trade.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times that David Aardsma's hip surgery was more extensive than first thought and the hurler might not be ready by Opening Day. The M's were shopping the 29-year-old for quite some time but now they'll wait even longer to move him.
- In an interview on 1500-ESPN, Twins GM Bill Smith revealed that the club finished a distant second in the bidding for Japanese starter Hisashi Iwakuma (information passed along by Aaron Gleeman). Minnesota offered $7.7MM for the hurler while the Athletics won the bidding with $19.1MM. Ultimately, Iwakuma and the A's couldn't agree to terms.
Hisashi Iwakuma has re-signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles for approximately $3.6MM, tweets Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times. He adds that the right-hander seems unwilling to discuss a move to MLB until he qualifies for international free agency, which will be after the 2011 season.
Iwakuma, 29, and the Athletics failed to reach an agreement on a contract after Oakland was the high bidder for his negotiating rights. The player was said to be seeking $12MM per season, but the A's were thinking along the lines of $3-5MM per season. Because no deal was reached, Rakuten did not receive the $19.1MM posting fee. Since Iwakuma will be a free agent next year, the team won't get any posting money then either.
One year ago today, the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks finalized the trade that sent Curtis Granderson to New York, Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy to Arizona and Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson to Detroit. As we await this year's answer to that 2009 blockbuster, here are some links to enjoy...
- Phil Coke, who was also in that trade, is set to move to the Tigers' rotation, but Detroit isn't desperate for left-handed relief help. Daniel Schlereth, yet another product of the trade, could be a cog in the Tigers' 'pen, so they're showing limited interest in free agents like J.C. Romero and Ron Mahay, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck.
- The agent for Hisashi Iwakuma, Don Nomura, told the Associated Press (via ESPN) that the A's showed no respect for his client in their recent negotiations. The agent is clearly frustrated by what he perceives to be a lack of sincerity from Oakland.
- The D'Backs have some interest in outfielder Chris Heisey, but have yet to approach the Reds about him, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link).
- The Phillies are still interested in a potential deal with Chad Durbin, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams tells Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that his team is "about tapped out" in terms of payroll flexibility (Twitter link).
- The Indians officially announced their minor league deal with Paul Phillips today.
- The Yankees met with Pedro Feliciano's representatives today, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter).
The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser has some updates regarding Oakland's offseason plans:
- Oakland increased its offer to Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma, but the two sides were still unable to agree on a deal. Iwakuma was looking for around $12MM per season, and the A's were unwilling to spend more than $36MM, including the posting fee. The A's will have interest in Iwakuma again next offseason, when he is a free agent and doesn't require a posting fee. However, relations may be strained after Iwakuma's agent Don Nomura told the AP the A's "never showed any respect" toward his client.
- The A's may take the $19.1MM posting fee that will be returned and focus on other areas, including Hideki Matsui. Oakland GM Billy Beane met with Matui's agent, Arn Tellem, Monday at the Winter Meetings. According to Slusser, Matsui has "strong interest" in playing for the A's. Derrek Lee and Nick Johnson are potential alternatives.
- According to this tweet from Slusser, if the A's look to add a veteran starter, it may be a familiar face, coming in the form of Justin Duchscherer.
9:32pm: The A's announced they were unable to reach an agreement with Iwakuma and his representatives.
5:20pm: It would be a surprise if the A's reach a deal with Iwakuma, Billy Beane told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
3:53pm: There has been no movement between the A's and Iwakuma today, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The deadline for a deal is just over seven hours away.
9:19am: The Athletics and Iwakuma are still talking today, tweets Slusser. There is a report out of Japan suggesting Iwakuma will return to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, with a press conference due Wednesday.
MONDAY, 12:00am: Slusser hears (Twitter link) that Iwakuma would be able to take his physical after the negotiating deadline, with any agreement being nullified should he fail the physical. As such, talks could continue into Monday.
SUNDAY, 8:46pm: The deal with Iwakuma appears to be dead, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The 29-year-old would need to be in the Bay Area tomorrow for a physical and he is still in Japan. If a deal is not reached, Oakland will be refunded the $19MM posting fee.
9:05am: With less than 24 hours left to reach an agreement, negotiations between Hisashi Iwakuma and the Athletics are "not looking good," tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. While Oakland's window doesn't officially close at midnight tonight, Slusser explains that an agreement must be reached by then to allow time for a physical (Twitter link).
After the Athletics posted the winning bid for Iwakuma, earning the rights to negotiate with right-hander, it appeared the two sides were far apart, with discussions reaching an impasse. While talks have continued since that point, it seems likely that no agreement will be reached and the A's will have their posting fee returned. As for Iwakuma, one source in Japan who spoke to Slusser thinks that remaining in Japan could be the best outcome for the 29-year-old anyway (Twitter link).
The latest on the Oakland Athletics, all of which comes in the form of Twitter links...
- The A's have until 12am ET Monday to finalize a contract with Hisashi Iwakuma, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That includes the contract and physical. Oakland broke off negotiations a few weeks ago, which prompted Iwakuma's agent to tweet his side. If a deal is not reached, Iwakuma's former team does not receive the posting fee.
- Rosenthal adds that the A's were not confident with Lance Berkman, who just landed in St. Louis. Their spacious ballpark is proving to be a tough sell.
- Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle says that the A's are "very likely" to feel they need to get the Adrian Beltre situation resolved given all the recent signings and trades. Oakland made the free agent third baseman a five year offer a few weeks ago.
Exactly ten years ago, the Orix Blue Wave lost a 27-year-old outfielder to the Seattle Mariners. A decade later, Ichiro Suzuki has ten Gold Gloves and 2244 big league hits to his name. Here are today's links...
- Derek Jeter is meeting with agent Casey Close, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter). They met with the Yankees in Tampa today, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- An executive interested in Lance Berkman expects that it would take a one-year deal worth $7MM to sign the switch-hitter, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
- Passan reports that the A’s continue to talk with right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, though talks appeared to sour earlier in the month.
- The Nationals are still discussing potential deals with Carl Pavano, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (on Twitter).
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he'll know by the end of next week's winter meetings whether it makes sense to trade Justin Upton.
- A.J. Pierzynski said on The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 that he's talking to the White Sox and some other teams about potential deals (via ESPNChicago). The White Sox are open to bringing the catcher back, though they didn't offer him arbitration last week.
- Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball looks back at some record salary arbitration cases from over the years. For instance, Tim Lincecum's demand for a $13MM salary last year was the most any first-time eligible pitcher has ever asked for.
- The Rangers have signed a European player for the first time in franchise history. They agreed to a minor league deal with 18-year-old Dutch middle infielder Nick Urbanus, according to the Newberg Report.
- The agent for Brandon Webb told Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the former Cy Young Award winner would have interest in pitching for the Pirates. About six teams are interested in Webb, including Pittsburgh.
- The Dodgers are open to re-signing Rod Barajas, Vicente Padilla and Scott Podsednik, though they didn’t offer the players arbitration. Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports on Twitter that the team remains in contact with all three.
- Scott Boras' company provided families of poor Dominican prospects with tens of thousands of dollars, reports Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times. Boras tells Yahoo's Tim Brown that he was helping prospects out when their careers were on the line, but MLB will investigate the issue.
- The Rangers expect Frank Francisco to accept their offer of arbitration, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter).
- The Nationals are no longer pursuing Adam Dunn aggressively and they appear to be a fringe suitor for him, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Brian Moehler tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he intends to play in 2011 and has interest in returning to the Astros. But Moehler has never pitched in the playoffs, so he'd like to sign with a team that has a good chance of making a playoff run.
- The divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt is now final, according to the AP (on ESPN). The McCourts await a decision that will determine whether Frank has sole ownership of the Dodgers or whether he shares the club with his ex-wife.
- Don Nomura, the agent for Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he "deeply" hopes to complete a deal between his client and the A's. Oakland, who won the bidding for Iwakuma, broke off talks earlier in the week because the sides were too far apart.
Nomura says the A's offered a four-year, $15.25MM deal, for an average of $3.8125MM per year. The team was using Kei Igawa (five years, $20MM) and Colby Lewis (two years, $5MM) as comparables, while Nomura countered with Hiroki Kuroda (three years, $35.3MM) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (six years, $52MM). The A's pointed to their $19.1MM posting fee, but Nomura wanted to keep the pitcher's contract separate (presumably since Iwakuma wouldn't see any of the posting fee money). Nomura remains open to a deal since the sides have until December 8th, though he suggests the A's are now "hunting two free agent pitchers." He finished by noting that the team's offer to Adrian Beltre "was just a PR" move.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle broke the story yesterday; her blog post was updated with similar information prior to Nomura's barrage of tweets. Her source pegs the posting fee at $18MM. In either case, Iwakuma would have cost the A's over $8MM a year. In my opinion, that commitment was already plenty risky.
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.