MLB teams have until Friday to bid on negotiating rights to star Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma

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Two months ago Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was said to be interested in leaving the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for MLB and now the Kyoda News reports that he’s officially been “posted” as an available player.

According to the report, MLB teams “will have until Friday to submit sealed bids and the highest paying club will win the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with the player, upon approval of the price by his Japanese club.”

In other words, Iwakuma could shake up the offseason market before free agency even officially begins.

Iwakuma is a 29-year-old right-hander with a 2.81 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 201 innings this season. His best year came in 2008, when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP. He’s considered by many to be the second-best pitcher in Japan behind phenom Yu Darvish and multiple teams figure to submit a bid of at least $10 million for the exclusive negotiating rights, particularly since the free agent market for starters is underwhelming beyond Cliff Lee.

When he was pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic last year one AL scout called Iwakuma “very impressive across the board” and told Baseball America that he “would step into any rotation in the majors right now” and “might be the No. 1 [starter] for half the teams in the majors.”

Angels sign Zack Cozart to a three-year, $38 million deal

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Angels have signed infielder Zack Cozart to a three-year, $38 million deal.

That seems like a bargain deal for Cozart, who hit .297/.385/.548 with 24 homers and 63 RBI as the Cincinnati Reds shortstop in 2017. In Anaheim, however, he will not be playing short — not with Andrelton Simmons around — so he’ll slide over to third base. He’s never played there, but you figure he can handle it.

This is a pretty nifty move for the Angels, as the other top third base options — specifically, Mike Moustakas — are likely going to cost a lot more than what they’ll be paying Cozart.

Between this, the Ian Kinsler trade and the Shohei Ohtani acquisition, the Angels are going to be sporting a very different look in 2018.