A’s bid for Hisashi Iwakuma’s negotiating rights believed to be “in the $15 million range”

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Various sources confirm that Oakland has secured exclusive negotiating rights with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that “the A’s winning bid was in the $15 million range.”

Oakland will pay that “posting fee” to Iwakuma’s team in Japan only if the two sides are able to agree on a contract and there’s a 30-day deadline for negotiations. Iwakuma does not get any of the posting fee, so he’s on his own to work out a separate deal.

Slusser speculates that signing Iwakuma would motivate the A’s to shop their various young starting pitchers, which means Vin Mazzaro, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden may soon be available “for a big bat.”

Sheldon Ocker named winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Sheldon Ocker the winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 29.

Ocker began covering the Indians for the Akron Beacon Journal in 1981 and did so until 2013, when he retired. He was national president of the BBWAA in 1985 and served as chair of the Cleveland Chapter 11 times. He named Ohio Sports Writer of the Year in 1997 and 2000 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.