A’s win exclusive rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma

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There’s no official word yet on which team submitted the winning bid for exclusive negotiating rights with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, but his agent Don Nomura tweeted the following a short time ago:

岩隈さん Oakland Athletics!!!!

Translated, that reads: “Iwakuma’s Oakland Athletics!!!!”

Jon Heyman of SI.com has confirmed the news.

Oakland must still work out an actual contract with Iwakuma, as their winning bid only gives them the right to negotiate with him. If the two sides can agree to a contract within the next 30 days, the bid amount will go to his old team in Japan and Iwakuma will receive whatever deal he works out with the A’s.

Iwakuma is 29 years old and had a 2.81 ERA 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 No. 2 pitcher in Japan behind phenom Yu Darvish and when pitching in the World Baseball Classic last year one AL scout 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.”

Definitely an unexpected move from the A’s, who’re already pretty flush with young starting pitching and aren’t exactly known for throwing around money.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.