Now that his three-year deal with the Dodgers is in jeopardy due to issues with his physical, Hisashi Iwakuma is back on the market, and Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM reports that the Mariners have resumed their pursuit of Iwakuma (Twitter link).
Iwakuma, of course, has spent his entire Major League career with the Mariners, who earlier this winter were said to consider him their “top priority.” As J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group tweets, the Dodgers “surged” past the Mariners in the Iwakuma bidding after they were willing to guarantee a third year on his contract (pending a physical). If the Dodgers’ third year is off the table, then, it would make sense that the Mariners could potentially re-enter the picture. However, at this time, we don’t know whether the Dodgers have pulled the third year entirely or are simply hoping for a reduced annual rate given the reported medical concerns.
Iwakuma, who will pitch next season at 35 years of age, posted a 3.54 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and a 50.4 percent ground-ball rate in 129 2/3 innings with Seattle last season, though a lat injury kept him on the shelf for more than two months and limited his innings total. That marked the second straight season in which he was limited by injuries, as his 2014 campaign was truncated by a torn tendon in his right middle finger.
The specific issue with Iwakuma’s physical remains unknown, but that the Dodgers are reportedly still trying to come to an agreement and the Mariners are now back in the mix suggests that there’s nothing dire in his medical results. However, without knowing the nature of the red flags, it’s nearly impossible to gauge what sort of reduction will need to be made from the previously reported three-year, $45MM price tag that the Dodgers had place on Iwakuma.