In a stunning turn of events, the Mariners have re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma's agreed-upon three-year contract with the Dodgers fell through after issues arose in his physical.
Hisashi Iwakuma is returning to the Seattle Mariners.
After news broke early Thursday morning that his pending deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-year, $45 million contract had fallen through because of issues/concerns found in his physical, the Mariners were able to re-enter the competition for the veteran right-hander’s services. By late Thursday evening, general manager Jerry Dipoto had finalized a deal to bring Iwakuma back to the Mariners for a fifth straight season and possibly more.
The team announced that Iwakuma had agreed to a one-year contract for the 2016 season with vesting options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The Mariners club policy is to not divulge financial terms of any contract.
It was a stunning turn of events for the Mariners, who had thought their previous contract offer of 2 years, $30 million in early December wasn’t enough after the Dodgers swooped in days before the Major League baseball winter meetings. Los Angeles, having lost out on Zack Greinke and Jeff Samardzija on the free agent market, was willing to give Iwakuma a third-year – something the Mariners were not willing to do.
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Seattle moved on and made a trade for left-hander Wade Miley to replace Iwakuma. But now they have both pitchers.
With the circumstances surrounding Iwakuma and his free agent market changed, the Mariners were able to take advantage of the situation and bring back the starting pitcher they wanted to keep this offseason at a lower cost than they originally budgeted. That aspect was important because Seattle is nearing its payroll budget for the 2016 season.
“We said from the start that Kuma was a priority for us,” Dipoto said. “Obviously, the developments from the last few days allowed us to get back in the game. It’s a credit to our ownership; to (CEO) Howard Lincoln, to (team president) Kevin Mather, to our entire ownership group that we were able to get aggressive and find a way to bring Kuma back to the Mariners. We’re all thrilled. This is a big move for us. We feel like this really puts a finishing touch on what we think has been a very productive off-season.”
Iwakuma made a total of 20 starts last season, missing two and half months with a lat strain. He posted a 9-5 record with a 3.54 ERA. In 129 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 111 batters. The Mariners won 11 of his final 16 starts.
In his four big league seasons – all with the Mariners – Iwakuma has posted a 47-25 record with a 3.17 ERA in 111 appearances, including 97 starts. As a starter, he’s posted a 3.09 ERA for his career and was an all-star in 2013.
The Mariners starting rotation core now features Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma, Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Nathan Karns along with Vidal Nuno and Mike Montgomery.