Iwakuma, an All-Star in 2013, made 20 starts last season, posting a 9-5 record and a 3.54 ERA. He missed two months because of a strained lat muscle. He struck out 111 batters in 129 2/3 innings.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Is it time for Plan B for general manager Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners?

Just days ago, Dipoto relayed his winter meetings to-do list with reporters and mentioned three prominent goals: re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma or another starting pitcher if Iwakuma goes elsewhere, find an everyday first baseman and add bullpen depth.

Iwakuma has been priority No. 1 for Dipoto since he was hired in October. On Thursday, he reiterated that desire.

“That is Plan A for us, that is our choice is to bring him back if that’s possible,” Dipoto said Thursday at the news conference to introduce outfielder Nori Aoki.

Well, Plan A appears to be leaning toward Hollywood.

Multiple reports said Iwakuma will sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the near future.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden had the most definitive report, tweeting that the Dodgers and Iwakuma had agreed to a deal. Immediately after Bowden’s report, other outlets, including Fox Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports and the New York Post said an agreement was close but not reached. Later in the evening, there were reports that Iwakuma would agree to a three-year contract with the Dodgers.

It’s not surprising, because the Dodgers had been reported to be “making a push” for Iwakuma.

When the Dodgers make a push, it usually means money. The organization has had one of the highest payrolls in baseball the past three seasons. They can simply outbid Seattle.

Iwakuma, an All-Star in 2013, made 20 starts last season, posting a 9-5 record and a 3.54 ERA. He missed two months because of a strained lat muscle. He struck out 111 batters in 129 2/3 innings.

He turns 35 in April and has spent significant time on the disabled list the past two seasons. Yet when healthy, he has been a solid No. 2 or 3 starter.

According to sources, the Mariners offered Iwakuma a two-year contract early in free agency, but the veteran right-hander was seeking at least a three-year deal. The Mariners knew a third year could be the key. As for the money, estimates of $14 million to $15 million per year seemed like logical. It’s a contract the Mariners could easily afford.

But now?

The starting-pitching market around Iwakuma has been elevated.  Free-agent starting pitchers are beginning to be rewarded with larger than expected contracts.

Realistically, neither the seven-year, $217 million contract signed by David Price with the Red Sox nor the six-year, $206.5 million contract signed by Zack Greinke with the Diamondbacks are factors in Iwakuma’s price tag. They were the elite free-agent pitchers and expected to sign gargantuan deals that make every parent of a young son want to hire a pitching coach.

“You’ve seen some real bonafide marquee signings already,” Dipoto said. “Justifiable, they’re great pitchers, but I don’t know where that takes Kuma’s market or the others around him.”

But when J.A. Happ signs a three-year, $36 million contract with the Blue Jays, John Lackey at age 37 signs a two-year, $32 million contract with the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija signs a five-year, $90 million deal with the Giants, you can see where Iwakuma’s market increase.

The Dodgers also could shrug off the qualifying offer attached to Iwakuma. The attachment of the qualifying offer to Iwakuma was supposed to be some leverage for Seattle, because many teams are reticent to give up a high draft pick.

But because the Dodgers lost Greinke to the Diamondbacks, they will receive a compensatory pick in the first round. So losing their first-round pick by signing Iwakuma won’t be a factor.

If this is a bidding war with the Dodgers — something Seattle won’t win — there is a point where the Mariners just have to walk away.

Dipoto mentioned losing Iwakuma as a possibility, saying: “If we don’t, then we’re going to have to dig in on what we consider to be the next tier.”

The next tier isn’t exactly sexy for fans when it comes to free agency. But don’t expect the Mariners to shell out $100 million or more for Johnny Cueto.

“We are not likely to be about marquee names and big signings,” Dipoto said.

But what is marquee and what is just market cost for a definite need?  Are the projected $80 million contracts for the likes of right-hander Mike Leake or left-hander Wei-Yin Chen out of reach for Seattle? Even 28-year-old right-hander Kenta Maeda, who is being posted by his team in Japan, might command that a total near $60 million with his posting fee.

A pair of veteran pitchers such as lefty Scott Kazmir or righty Yovani Gallardo might be more within their range. They could take a chance on one-year deal for right-hander Doug Fister, who struggled last season, or on right-hander Henderson Alvarez and his injured shoulder. Dipoto has been creative in his signings.

Dipoto also could go the trade route, something he’s done often and prefers — though the Mariners don’t have much to offer in return. But another pitcher is needed if Iwakuma joins the Dodgers.

“The league, the industry, the market is going to define our timing on this,” Dipoto said.