Hisashi Iwakuma Suddenly Signs With Mariners

The Mariners openly referred to Hisashi Iwakuma as their No. 1 offseason priority. Then they saw him reach a three-year agreement with the Dodgers worth $45 million, so they gave up, because they had to, and moved on to Wade Miley. Just days ago, Jerry Dipoto said he was basically done tweaking the roster. Everything was more or less set where he wanted. But you can’t predict random chaos. See, there are contracts that are agreed to, and there are contracts that are official. Before Iwakuma’s Dodger contract could become official, he had to pass a physical exam, and he failed it. As soon as Dipoto heard about that, he got ownership approval and moved in. I just finished watching a press conference announcing Iwakuma’s return to Seattle.

It happened fast, and Jon Heyman has the terms. Earlier Thursday, word spread Iwakuma had failed the physical. By Thursday night, the Mariners said they had him re-signed. Iwakuma gets a $1-million signing bonus, and a $10-million salary for 2016. Then there are $10-million club options for the next two years, with $1-million buyouts. That’s not the end of it, though — there’s a $14-million vesting option for 2017, if Iwakuma throws 162 innings this coming year. And there’s a $15-million vesting option for 2018, if Iwakuma throws 162 innings the next year, or 324 innings combined. Throw in some smaller incentives and Iwakuma’s maximum contract is right there with the Dodgers total. It’s just that the guarantee is $12 million. Pretty obviously, Iwakuma lost a lot of leverage.

Still, if he believes in his health, he’ll get his money. Iwakuma says he’s good to go, and so do the Mariners. It’s worth thinking about a few things. The Dodgers gave 3/$45m, and then wanted to re-negotiate after the physical. The Mariners gave Iwakuma an end-of-season physical, and they offered him 2/$30m. They initially lost out to the Dodgers because they weren’t comfortable with the guaranteed third year. What that suggests is that anything in the tests is more of a longer-term concern, and now the Mariners have some protection.

Not that we know how this is going to go. Maybe Iwakuma breaks down immediately. Or maybe this turns out like when Aaron Sele failed a physical with the Orioles. That scrapped a four-year commitment. Sele signed a two-year commitment with Seattle and pitched effectively. He eventually had shoulder surgery three years out (from which he returned). Iwakuma will be 37 in 2018 so he’d be a risk no matter what. The value here will be at the front.

Over three years, Iwakuma has Stephen Strasburg’s ERA-, Scott Kazmir’s FIP-, and Madison Bumgarner’s xFIP-. He projects now as a No. 2 or No. 3, and he sets up a battle between Nate Karns and James Paxton for the last rotation slot. That depth is likely to be needed, although now there’s some chance the Mariners re-visit trade talks, dangling a pitcher they didn’t think they could move. The likelihood is someone just starts in Tacoma. Some kind of injury somewhere is to be expected.

The Mariners didn’t expect to get a few wins better like this, but Iwakuma fell back in their lap, and they couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It’ll help them be competitive with what’s become a deep rotation. On the Dodgers’ end, they walked back from the three-year commitment because they were no longer comfortable with it. It’s mostly bad luck, but now this just increases the urgency they would’ve been already feeling to make the rotation better. They can’t know what to expect from Hyun-Jin Ryu. They can’t know when to expect Brandon McCarthy. There will always be questions about Brett Anderson and Alex Wood, so it’s a guarantee the Dodgers add one starter, and there’s a big chance they add two. This isn’t a catastrophe for them — they didn’t want to give all that money to someone they think is an injury risk. Nothing wrong with that. But to this point it’s been an offseason of missed opportunities. The good news is I think the Dodgers almost prefer to be creative.

We hoped you liked reading Hisashi Iwakuma Suddenly Signs With Mariners by Jeff Sullivan!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

newest oldest most voted
joser
Guest
joser

I had to check the date to make sure we hadn’t fast forwarded to the beginning of April.

So this is the second time the Mariners got Iwakuma because a medical issue knocked him out of consideration by a California team?

esdrtfyu
Guest
esdrtfyu

There is absolutely no change whatsoever in how the Phillies are run.

Bill Giles put the ownership group together with people who think like him 35 years ago. Guess what? Bill Giles is still there. He took part in the hiring of MacPhail and Klentak both. He was at the press conference announcing the hiring of Klentak.

35 Years.

Jim Thome and Cliff Lee

That’s it.

35 Years.

Carlos Ruiz and Maikel Franco, the only two starting quality players signed out of Latin America. Ruiz was signed out of Panama for eight thousand dollars. Need that in numerical form? $8,000- Eight Stacks.

Maikel Franco was signed for $100,000- That’s one hundred thousand American dollars. One hundred Stacks.

The Red Sox paid $63 million to sign Yoan Moncada. The Phillies paid $108,000- to sign both Carlos Ruiz and Maikel Franco.

Two real free agents and two starting position players from Latin America signed for nothing.

The Phillies Way is unchanged. They will sit in the cellar until they collect enough free talent in the MLB Plantation Slave Auction held every June. These young slave/intern players will be exploited to the max by the Phillies bloodsucking ownership cabal. For seven years they will make these bloodsucking criminals massive profits. If a few become fan favorites and the crowds are still huge as they near free agency then they will be signed to short, team friendly deals. If any have slipped through their screening process and turn out to be normal players seeking long contracts they will be demonized and booted out the door.

The Phillies after telling lies to their fan base from 2012 onward finally admitted they were “rebuilding”. The truth of the matter is they are already planning their next rebuild as they conduct this one.

THAT is The Phillies Way.

Google: Kevin Maitan FREE_AEC
ˆ