Hitoki Iwase Rumors
Some Japanese baseball-related rumors, courtesy of Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker:
- Seven teams have surfaced in Japanese media reports as suitors for free agent amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa: the Red Sox, Braves, Mariners, Pirates, Tigers, Cubs, and Phillies. David O'Brien of the AJC says the Braves are "legit players" for Tazawa. The Red Sox are seen as the frontrunner, according to Paul Hoynes. Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald agrees that Boston is in the lead, and adds the Marlins to the mix.
- Reliever Hitoki Iwase will remain in Japan. Shortstop Tomohiro Nioka is a free agent, but may not necessarily come to MLB.
- So Taguchi and Tadahito Iguchi may return to Japan for the '09 season.
- Saburo Ohmura is a 32 centerfielder with an eye on MLB. Newman tells me he profiles as more of a fourth outfielder.
Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker has several reports stating that Chunichi Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase will decline free agency and stay with the team. Iwase may not have been able to top his $4.3MM salary with an MLB club.
Iwase, a 34 year-old southpaw, would've been the best reliever coming over from Japan. He posted a 2.94 ERA and 7.5 K/9 in 49 innings this year.
Links for Saturday...
- Japanese reliever Hitoki Iwase will receive a multiyear offer from the Chunichi Dragons. If he turns it down, he'll attract interest from MLB teams.
- Richard Justice describes the bad blood between former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker and owner Drayton McLane.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman talked to a "Dodgers-connected person" who believes Russell Martin was "just another catcher" this year. Mitchel Lichtman does not agree.
- Heyman named the Orioles as a potential Manny Ramirez suitor, but Roch Kubatko finds a signing highly unlikely.
Mark Feinsand is reporting that the Yankees have sent Gene Michael to Japan to scout potential acquisitions for '09.
That Michael was sent to Japan for the first time signifies a shift for the Yankees, who have relied on their Pacific scouts for several years. Following the disastrous signing of Kei Igawa, however, the Yankees aren't taking any chances, sending one of their most trusted talent evaluators to look at potential acquisitions.
Feinsand notes that it is unclear which players the Yankees are interested in, but does list several players that could be available including right-handers Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami and lefty Hitoki Iwase, a reliever.
Feinsand does not mention the biggest potential prize, Yu Darvish. Previously the Yankees were listed as one of the teams with a scout at the Olympics to watch Darvish. While nobody is certain that Darvish will be posted this winter, if rumors of a $75MM posting fee are even close to accurate, the Yankees will have to be involved.
In July we looked at some potential free agents from Japan and last winter East Windup Chronicle ranked several Japanese pitchers, none of whom have yet to make the jump to the US.
Some Saturday mid-day linkage:
- Hitoki Iwase was lit up in the Olympics, possibly dropping his stock as a prospect. Iwase was one of several Japanese players being scouted by Major League clubs in Beijing.
- Luis Gonzalez reminisces about his trade to the Diamondbacks ten years ago.
- Manny Ramirez is not interested in talking about those old Philadelphia rumors. I'm shocked, shocked.
- J.D. Drew's back spasms are actually a herniated disk. According to Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox would love to add another outfielder, but can't seem to lay their hands on one. No offense to Jason Lane.
- He's baaaa-aaaack: Free-agent-to-be Carl Pavano is starting tonight for the New York Yankees. Strike up the band and break out the rum punch.
- Recently traded infielder Jose Bautista was at odds with Pirates manager John Russell.
- Thomas Boswell talks about the possibility of Stephen Strasburg becoming a National next year.
Let's kick off the morning with some random links.
- Live chat here today at 2pm CST.
- Brian Matusz is hopeful about striking a deal with the Orioles by Friday's deadline. Roch Kubatko has a source saying it's likely.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis warns us not to listen to the posturing - he still expects all the first-round draft picks to sign with the possible exception of Allan Dykstra.
- Should the Mariners offer Raul Ibanez a three-year deal at $10-11MM per?
- No word yet on possible Rays acquisitions in wake of the Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria injuries. Marc Lancaster wonders if Kenny Lofton or...don't say it...Barry Bonds would make sense.
- The Mets had no interest in Adam Dunn. They wonder about his passion, according to Joel Sherman. Did you know he doesn't like baseball?
- The Phillies were more interested in Casey Blake than Manny Ramirez.
- Athletics Nation looks at some free agent options for '09.
- Shannon Stewart didn't understand his latest Blue Jay Experience.
- The Yankees, Mets, Angels, and Padres have scouts at the Olympics to watch Hitoki Iwase, Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami, Yu Darvish, and Kyuji Fujikawa.
Here's today's link roundup.
- Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus rates the best remaining fits for Barry Bonds. The Angels come out on top.
- The Mets seem pessimistic about Ryan Church returning this season.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo has the latest buzz on the unsigned draft picks.
- The Astros dug up a pitcher in the independent leagues who is said to touch 100 mph. He's a 21 year-old righty named Jack Tilghman.
- The Pirates plan to offer long-term contracts to Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit.
- Sean McAdam says the Red Sox still have some interest in Scott Eyre.
- Dave Cameron can't figure out what kind of contract Milton Bradley will get. Did you realize Bradley leads the American League in both OBP and SLG?
- Patrick Newman ranks Hitoki Iwase, Kenshin Kawakami, and Koji Uehara as MLB prospects.
Here are today's links.
- Live chat today here at 2pm CST.
- MiLB.com is holding a charity auction with all kinds of memorabilia. Check it out.
- NPB Tracker takes a look at Japanese closer Hitoki Iwase, who should draw plenty of interest from MLB teams this winter.
- Trading Greg Maddux to the Dodgers is still possible, though unlikely. There's also word that the Padres "tested the trade value" of Cla Meredith last week.
- Livan Hernandez is expected to clear waivers today. We know the Rockies have discussed him internally, and Buster Olney speculates the Mets might be interested. The D'Backs are not likely to bring him back.
- The Tigers reportedly asked for Matt Lindstrom from the Marlins for Ivan Rodriguez.
- I did a Q&A with Philly Sports 101.
- Tom Haudricourt has details on Prince Fielder's dugout shoves of teammate Manny Parra.
- Joba Chamberlain is experiencing shoulder stiffness and will probably end up on the DL. It appears his labrum and rotator cuff are OK, at least.
As you may have heard, Kosuke Fukudome filed for free agency today. He's listening to offers from both Japanese and MLB teams - he's still undecided. The Chunichi Dragons are not expected to modify their offer. They've got a one year proposal out to Fukudome for about $3.5MM and a four-year offer for about $15.4MM. The Hanshin Tigers are expected to offer something like four years, $20MM. Obviously he could beat those offers in the U.S. The Rangers, Cubs, Giants, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, and Padres have all been connected to Fukudome.
Meanwhile lefty closer Hitoki Iwase, coveted by many MLB teams, has decided to stay in Japan. The Rockies, Royals, and Cubs had their eye on him.
Closer Hitoki Iwase has received two offers (link in Japanese) from his team the Chunichi Dragons. One is a one-year, $4MM offer. The other is a four-year, $16MM offer - which would be the biggest contract in franchise history.
Iwase told the press that he was "very impressed with the offer, and definitely thinking about remaining a Dragon." In that case he would not file for free agency. Right now, the vibe is that he will stay in Japan. The Royals, Cubs, and Rockies are among the MLB teams interested in his services.
Thanks to Tak Iwanaga for translating.