2:04 PM: More intrigue from Rosenthal. He tells us that the Athletics also submitted a bid for Iwakuma and that the Rangers’ bid may have actually been too low. According to Rosenthal, the A’s would like to add Iwakuma in order to acquire a hitter from their surplus of starting pitching.
1:15 PM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Rangers may have the highest bid for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Last night, a Japanese media report suggested that the Mariners were the front-runners.
While we still have no official word about who has the highest bid, Rosenthal confirms that the Rangers did indeed make a bid and writes that it’s possible other AL West clubs are involved. Stay tuned.
10:21 AM: Still no confirmation that the Mariners actually have the highest bid for Iwakuma, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times tells us that the Golden Eagles have until next Thursday to decide whether to accept the winning bid. If they do, the MLB team can begin negotiations with Iwakuma.
Friday, 11:00 PM: Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker tweets that the bidding for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has closed, with more than one team submitting a bid. According to MLB Trade Rumors, a report from Sports Hochi says that the Mariners are supposedly in the lead with a bid of $13 million.
Iwakuma’s team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, were hoping for a posting fee around $16-17 million and they reserve the right to reject the winning bid.
Many consider Ikakuma to be the second best pitcher in Japan behind Yu Darvish. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 2.82 ERA and 153/36 K/BB ratio over 201 innings this season. He earned the Pacific League MVP when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA in 2008 and turned some heads stateside by posting a 1.35 ERA and 15/6 K/BB ratio over four games (three starts) in the World Baseball Classic last year.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com just reported that Yulieski Gurriel & Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who are brothers, reportedly defected and will be seeking MLB deals. There aren’t any details yet, but Sanchez will be updating with a full story that we’ll link here when he has it.
Yulieski is a 31-year old third baseman and, according to Baseball America’s Ben Badler he was the No. 1 player remaining in Cuba. He was one of the Cuban players who was permitted to play in Japan recently, and he just put up a .305/.349/.536 season with 11 homers in 62 games for the Yokohama Bay Stars and has continued to rake in Cuba. He is likely major league ready right this instant. He’d be an unrestricted free agent given his age and team’s signing him would not be subject to international bonus pool limits.
Lourdes is only 22 years old. He’s hit .269/.355/.414 in 1036 Serie Nacional plate appearances and Badler thinks he has 20-homer potential in the majors one day. He’s currently a shortstop, but is probably destined for a corner. He is young enough to where he would be subject to bonus pool limits. Several teams have already exceeded those limits for the current signing period, limiting the number of teams who could sign him. If, however, it takes MLB a long time to clear him as a free agent — and with immigration issues and the like, that’s very possible — he may not be eligible to be signed until next year, which could bring some other teams into the fold.
Right-hander Craig Stammen, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Nationals, is expected to sign with the Indians.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Indians “hope to finalize a deal” with Stammen today, adding veteran depth to the bullpen. It’ll likely be a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Stammen missed nearly all of last season following elbow surgery and the Nationals non-tendered him, but he’s scheduled to be ready for spring training. After struggling as a starter early in his career he’s posted a 3.02 ERA in 280 innings out of the bullpen, so if healthy it’d be a nice addition for Cleveland.
For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.
This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.
This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.
As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.