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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

October 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Four Mariners become free agents — but not Iwakuma, yet

With the World Series officially over, four Mariners became free agents today by virtue of baseball rules, which stiipulate that all eligible players become free agents at 6 a.m. on the first day after the World Series.

They are pitchers Kevin Millwood, Oliver Perez and George Sherrill, and catcher Miguel Olivo. Sherrill, who missed virtually the entire season after Tommy John surgery, was first first activated from the 60-day disabled list on Monday.

The Mariners’ 40-man roster now stands at 35 players. Free agents are not eligible to sign with other teams for six days, so this week is an exclusive negotiating window for teams to re-sign their former players. From this list, the only one the Mariners are likely to have interest in retaining is Perez, who did a good job in a left-handed setup role.

Some of you may wonder why pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma isn’t on this list. Very good question. When he signed a one-year deal as a free agent from Japan

in January, Iwakuma’s contract called for him to be granted his release if he can’t reach agreement with the Mariners by Saturday (the same day that free agents can sign with other teams). If Iwakuma doesn’t sign by Saturday, he thus would become a free agent, but technically he is not one right now. Apparently, Iwakuma could actually delay his request for release beyond Saturday, but that’s considered unlikley. In essense, the stipulation makes Iwakuma no different than any other free agent: His team has a six-day exclusive window to re-sign him, then he becomes free to negotiate with other teams.

I’d expect the Mariners to make a strong play to re-sign Iwakuma, 31, who was 9-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 30 games. In 16 starts, he was 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA. The question is whether he wants to test the market and see what is out there for him. We’ll find out by the weekend.

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