At various points in recent days, first the Mariners and then the Rangers were cited as favorites to land negotiating rights to Japanese right-handed pitcher Hasashi Iwakuma.
But all indications now are that another AL West team — the Oakland A’s — put in the high bid.
First, Ken Rosenthal of FOX strongly indicated on Saturday that, according to his sources, the A’s were making a strong bid for Iwakuma and could surpass the number submitted by Seattle, reported by the Japanese media to be $13 million.
Then, earlier today, as Jeff Sullivan noted on Lookout Landing, Iwakuma’s agent, Don Nomura, tweeted earlier today the words, “Oakland Athletics” followed by four exclamation points. I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that the A’s put in the high bid, which would likely be accepted by Iwakuma’s Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Three exclamation points and I might have my doubts, but there’s a level of certainty that radiates from four. I feel strongly about that!!!!
It’s an odd move, on the surface, because the A’s already have five starters intact — Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Gio Gonzalez and Vin Mazarro. But as Rosenthal points out, the A’s can now use their starting pitching excess as trade bait to land needed offensive help. He threw out the name Casey McGehee of Milwaukee as a possible target. The A’s could even trade Iwakuma, he points out, but I doubt that Oakland would do that unless the acquiring team offset much of the posting fee.
Rakuten has until Thursday to accept or reject the high bid, but I’d suspect we’ll hear something sooner than that.