1:08pm: Issues arose during Iwakuma’s physical with the Dodgers, Bill Plunkett of the OC Register tweets, but the team has not closed the door to signing him. Talks are still ongoing between the two sides.
11:04am: Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter) hears that the Dodgers are not out on Iwakuma. He surmises that they could be reworking the contract, however.
10:50am: The Dodgers are backing out on their agreement with pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma due to concerns over his physical, according to a Japanese-language report from the Jiji Press (translation via Kazuto Yamazaki on Twitter). There’s no official word yet from the team regarding Iwakuma’s deal, but it should be noted that the two sides reached agreement all the way back on December 6th and a hiccup with the physical would explain the delay in making an announcement.
Iwakuma posted a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts for the Mariners last season, including a no-hitter. He missed more than two months with a lat strain, however, and turns 35 in April. He also dealt with some shoulder issues. It’s not immediately clear what red flag(s) popped up on the veteran’s physical, however. The Dodgers and Iwakuma shook hands on a three-year, $45MM contract prior to the Winter Meetings. At the time, that seemed like a fair price for the Japanese hurler given the strength of the pitching market. In fact, at the outset of the offseason, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted that exact contract for him.
Despite injury troubles, Iwakuma ended up turning in a typically excellent campaign for the Mariners in 2015. Over 129 2/3 innings, he worked to a 3.54 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9. Remarkably enough, that’s the worst single-season earned run average he has compiled over a single campaign. He’s been remarkably good since coming to Seattle from Japan before the 2012 season. In 653 2/3 total MLB frames, Iwakuma has allowed just 3.17 earned runs per regulation game.
If the Dodgers don’t finalize their deal with Iwakuma, they could turn to fellow free agent starter Mike Leake, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Leake is talking with the Nationals and Astros, but his preference is to pitch out west. Leake has talked to teams about at least a five-year deal for about $75MM (link). Scott Kazmir is also a consideration for Los Angeles, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports tweets.