The Rakuten Golden Eagles have officially committed to posting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, relays NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman on Twitter from multiple Japanese media reports. Rakuten can file with the commissioner's office starting November 1st, after which point teams can bid for the exclusive right to negotiate with Iwakuma. Iwakuma will be represented by Don Nomura, who previously served as the agent for Hideo Nomo and Hideki Irabu, among others.
Iwakuma, 30 in April, posted a 2.82 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, and 0.49 HR/9 in 201 innings this year. In August, Newman rated him as "the second best MLB pitching prospect currently active in NPB" in a FanGraphs article. He described Iwakuma as "a fairly standard fastball/slider/forkball righty."
Japanese pitchers coming to MLB have been all over the place in recent years, even focusing on the more expensive ones. Perhaps Iwakuma can emulate Hiroki Kuroda, who gave the Dodgers three years and 497 innings of 3.60 ball for $35.3MM. Unlike Iwakuma, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Kei Igawa, Kuroda did not require a posting fee. I would not expect an excessive posting fee for Iwakuma, since the winner will also have to negotiate his contract on top.
Proven fact. Not many Japanese pitchers are good in the US. I can only think of maybe 2-3 of them that were.
Well that’s a real stretch to say because there aren’t that many in the majors to begin with.
However, I do see that there have been more effective relievers than starters.
Some pitchers who pitched this year (obviously there are others who have pitched in the past): Saito, Takahashi, Uehara, Okajima (wasn’t great this year but had been stellar for his other 3 years), and Kuroda.
Most of these guys come over in their late 30’s so it’s interesting to see one near his prime.
One thing good about having to pay a posting fee.. Not get him signed and get the fee back, plus nobody else gets him either. Team that won the rights to negotiate with the player holds all the cards, a Boras nightmare.
I’ve personally seen him pitch in Sendai. He is definitely better than Kuroda ever was.
An overly expensive middle of the rotation arm. The Mets or Mariners will jump on him.
Any new word on Yu Darvish?
Any new word on Yu Darvish and his possible posting?
I have to saw that Iwakuma’s peripherals (6.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9) are not exactly exciting. He might be a productive pitcher in the MLB, but I would be hesitant to say he would be above average and post an ERA under 4.