UPDATE 11:56 P.M. SATURDAY: Ken Rosenthal of FOX reports that talk of Seattle winning the Iwakuma bid might be premature: The A’s and Rangers are in the running, too.
The deadline for making a bid on Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma passed Friday, and there were reports in the Japanese media indicating that the Mariners put in the high bid. This report in MLB Trade Rumors mentions an article in Sports Hochi out of Japan reporting that the M’s had a $13 million bid.
I’ve written twice recently about Iwakuma, here and here. He is considered the second-best pitcher in Japan, behind Yu Darvish (who is remaining in Japan for at least another season), and as Dave Cameron notes, he could fit into the No. 2 spot in the M’s rotation at a reasonable rate if the deal goes through.
That’s no slam-dunk, however. Iwakuma’s team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, has let it be known from the start they won’t accept a bid that doesn’t meet their financial expectatations, believed to be $16-17 million. Remember, when a player is “posted,” like Iwakuma was, it’s a two-step process. First, MLB teams must submit a blind bid for a sum to pay the Japanese team that is losing the player. If the posting team accepts the high bid, then the winning MLB team must negotiate a contract with the player. If either the team or player is dissatisfied with the dollars, the process can be halted, the MLB team gets all its money back, and the player will continue to play in Japan. The Golden Eagles have until next Thursday to decide whether to accept the high bid. If they do, then the winning MLB team would begin negotiating with the player.
Jack Zduriencik was asked about Iwakuma during a conference call Thursday to announce Eric Wedge’s coaching staff, and not surprsingly declined to comment. We’ll find out soon enough if the M’s will be adding a new pitcher to their staff.