The Mariners are leaning toward a qualifying offer for right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, writes MLB.com’s Greg Johns, but no final decision has been made. There’s mutual interest between the Mariners and the 34-year-old Iwakuma, but Johns notes that Seattle must decide if it wants to risk Iwakuma accepting the $15.8MM one-year offer, which would add a significant commitment to a payroll that has already guaranteed $77MM worth of 2015 salary to five players. From my vantage point, Iwakuma can easily double the amount of the qualifying offer on the open market this winter and could max out on a three-year deal in the $39-45MM range, making a QO a reasonable decision. Even if Iwakuma’s market collapses a bit and he has to take a two-year pact, I’d imagine annual salaries in the $13-15MM range would still be in play.
Here’s more from the AL West…
- ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that Mariners’ early offseason focus is on improving the club’s on-base percentage (Twitter link). Most of general manager Jerry Dipoto’s activity to address that deficiency will come via trade as opposed to free agency, Olney adds. That lines up with an Inbox column from Johns, in which he says he doesn’t foresee Dipoto making a big free agent splash. Rather, his expectation is that Dipoto will seek to add a veteran catcher, bullpen help, a center fielder and a rotation option primarily by being creative on the trade market.
- Regarding the Mariners and whether or not they’ll dive into free agency, I’ll add this: Seattle has the top unprotected pick in next year’s draft at No. 11, so it’d be pretty surprising to see them sign any player who rejects a qualifying offer. One free agent target that strikes me as a nice fit in Seattle would be Denard Span, assuming he doesn’t receive a QO.
- Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register examines whether or not the Angels will make a qualifying offer to David Freese. As Fletcher notes, Freese looks to be the lone regular on the free agent market at this time — unless some teams consider Daniel Murphy an option there — which could line him up for something like $30MM over three years. Offering Freese about $16MM is risky for the Halos, who are only about $26MM under the luxury tax threshold by Fletcher’s calculations. If the Angels make the offer, they’ll do so with the hope that Freese rejects. According to Fletcher, the front office is currently mulling the possibility, which is one that MLBTR’s Jeff Todd and I discussed at length on last week’s QO-themed edition of the MLBTR Podcast.
- Sticking with the qualifying offer theme that has been largely present throughout this post, Jeff Wilsont of the Forst Worth Star-Telegram spoke to Yovani Gallardo’s agent, Bobby Witt, about the possibility of the Rangers extending a qualifying offer to his client. “Deep down, I think they’re going to do it,” said Witt. “That’s the smart play by the Rangers.” Wilson examines the possibility of Gallardo being the first player to accept a qualifying offer, which, as Wilson points out, would mean that Gallardo receives a nice one-year deal to pitch in his home town and hit the open market in a move favorable position on next year’s thin crop of pitchers.