BY Art Thiel 11:19PM 12/17/2015

LA turnaround: Iwakuma re-signs with Mariners

In a surprising move, the Mariners signed their free agent pitcher, Hisashi Iwakuma, after he failed his physical exam with the Dodgers, who offered $45 million over three years.

The crowd was on its feet as Hisashi Iwakuma closed in on his no-hitter against Baltimore. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

In the evening of the day he flunked a physical exam for his future team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, free agent RHP Hisashi Iwakuma abruptly re-signed with the Mariners, his team of the past four years. General manager Jerry Dipoto announced Thursday night that  Iwakuma, 35 in April, signed a deal for 2016 with vesting options for 2017  and 2018.

“We said from the start that Kuma was a priority for us,” Dipoto said in a team statement. “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 (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 signed a deal Dec. 6 with the Dodgers for $45 million over three years after concluding his Mariners tenure for $7 million in 2015. The Mariners offered $30 million over two years, but were unwilling to guarantee a third year. The Dodgers were, pending a physical, but for reasons still unclear, Iwakuma didn’t pass the exam.

He missed the first month of 2014 season with a strained tendon in a finger, and missed 10 weeks in 2015 with a strained lat muscle behind his right shoulder, but he returned in early July.

Iwakuma was 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA (51 ER, 129.2 IP) with 111 strikeouts in 20 starts last season, including 4-2 with a 2.17 ERA (11 ER, 45.2 IP) with 43 strikeouts in his final seven starts.

Seattle won 11 of his final 16 starts of the season when he was 9-4 with a 2.82 ERA (34 ER, 108.1 IP) with 97 strikeouts.

On Aug. 12 vs. Baltimore, he threw the fifth no-hitter in Mariners history (fourth by a single pitcher) and became the second  Japanese-born pitcher with a major league no-hitter (Hideo Nomo, twice).

In four seasons with Seattle, Iwakuma has combined to go 47-25 with a 3.17 ERA (230 ER, 653.2 IP) with 551 strikeouts in 111 games, including 97 starts. Since joining the Mariners rotation on July 2, 2012, his 3.09 ERA (214 ER, 623.1 IP) as a starter is the fourth-best in the American League (min. 600 IP) and ninth in the majors.

In 2013, he was an American League All-Star and was named the Mariners MVP pitcher by the Seattle chapter of the BBWAA.

Earlier in the day, Jack Zduriencik, Dipoto’s predecessor in Seattle now a commentator on MLB Network, said the failure in the physical severely limited Iwakuma’s options at this point in the calendar.

“He’s in a tough spot right now,” Zduriencik said on MLB Tonight. “He’s turned down the (Mariners) qualifying offer. He’s now a free agent technically, and his options are the Dodgers can try to re-sign him or work something out at a reduced rate. Any club right now can do the same, as can the Seattle Mariners for that matter. So his leverage is kind of shot right now.”

The starting rotation now has Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma, Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton as the he likeliest starting five, with newcomer Nathan Karns along with holdovers Vidal Nuno and Mike Montgomery supplying competition.


YourThoughts

  • Kirkland

    So you *can* have your cake and eat it, too.

  • bevdog

    Did we just buy “damaged goods”? Certainly hope not because otherwise he is a very good pitcher.

  • jafabian

    A half of season of Kuma is worth it IMO. Montgomerey can spot start until then. If the M’s were heading into the playoffs last season he would have been the pitcher no one would want to face. Hasn’t Dipoto promised Karns he will be a starter?

    The Dodgers are having a bad offseason with Kuma not working out and then not doing their homework on Chapman a la Jack Z.

  • Mavis Jarvis

    Gee, is it too late to get Carson Smith back?

    • Evelyn Sepe


      ❝my neighbor’s aunty is making $98 HOURLY on the internet❞….A few days ago new McLaren F1 subsequent after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, $17k Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with extra open doors & weekly paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over $87, p/h.Learn More right Here
      zv..
      ➤➤.
      ➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportMedia/GetPaid/$98hourly… ❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦

  • dingle

    I really want to know what the Dodgers saw that the Mariners are willing to overlook.

    • jafabian

      It’s probably nothing the M’s don’t already know, hence the one year contract.

      • dingle

        Probably so. But considering how desperate the dodgers are for pitching, it does make me wonder.

    • Sonics79

      They must be blister-adverse.

  • Mavis Jarvis

    This all really reflects well on Dipoto as a GM. He held his ground on what ‘Kuma was worth and refused him a three-year guarantee. Then he moved quickly to pounce on the sudden opportunity to sign the pitcher at the right price. Very well executed. I’m actually getting cautiously optimistic about ’16.

    • meghantchambers


      ❝my neighbor’s aunty is making $98 HOURLY on the internet❞….A few days ago new McLaren F1 subsequent after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, $17k Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a day ..with extra open doors & weekly paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over $87, p/h.Learn More right Here
      bd.
      ➤➤
      ➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportOnline/GetPaid/$98hourly… ❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦.❦