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.

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.