Akinori Iwamura wishes to continue playing in North America next season, tweets Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The infielder is coming off by far the worst of his four major league seasons, posting a .535 OPS in 229 plate appearances with the Pirates (who released him in September) and the Athletics (who released him two weeks ago). Iwamura's ability to play both second and third makes him a candidate for teams in need of infield depth this winter, but it seems almost certain that he'd have to sign a minor league contract and then perform well in spring training to win a spot on a big league roster.
If this scenario doesn't play out for the 31-year-old and he decides to return to his native country after all, Newman believes that Iwamura's Japanese rights are still held by Yakult. Iwamura played all nine of his professional seasons in Japan with the Swallows, and it was Yakult who acquired the $4.5MM posting fee for the infielder when his rights were obtained by Tampa Bay in the 2006-07 offseason.