Earlier this week contract talks between the A’s and Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma broke down over what was, depending on which side you choose to believe, either a large or humongous gap in expected value.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle initially reported that Iwakuma was asking for a “Barry Zito-type deal” before agent Don Nomura quickly squashed that A’s-friendly spin.
Nomura, who’s been very active in using Twitter to get Iwakuma’s side of the negotiations public, indicated a couple days ago that he felt the talks were done. However, yesterday he e-mailed Slusser to say: “I don’t know if the talks are dead. I am assuming it’s over, however I am open for discussion until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 7.”
According to Nomura the A’s offered Iwakuma a four-year, $15.25 million deal, which along with the $19.1 million posting fee would have made their total investment about $8.5 million per season. Iwamura is said to be seeking a three-year deal worth $11-12 million per season, in addition to the posting fee.
If the A’s offer and Iwakuma’s asking price are accurate, then it may be a moot point whether or not the two sides are continuing to negotiate. Oakland wants to invest a total of about $8.5 million per season, while Iwakuma is seeking a deal that would make the A’s total investment about $18 million per season. And based on previous Japanese players going through the posting process, Iwakuma and Nomura are further outside the norm than the A’s.
Typically the posting fee given to the Japanese team is very close to the contract given to the player. For instance, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s deal with the Red Sox involved a $51 million posting fee and $52 million contract. Ichiro Suzuki’s deal with the Mariners involved a $13 million posting fee and $14 million contract. Kei Igawa’s deal with the Yankees involved a $26 million posting fee and $20 million contract. And the splits were similar for Akinori Iwamura and Kazuhiro Ishii.
In this case Iwakuma’s posting fee was $19.1 million, yet he’s reportedly asking for a deal in the neighborhood of $35 million when the previously posted players outlined above suggest the contract should be closer to $20 million. Toss in the fact that the A’s have all the leverage because the $19.1 posting fee is refunded if a deal can’t be struck and it’s tough not to conclude that Iwakuma and Nomura are driving too hard a bargain.
If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.
Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.
Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.
The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.
The Tigers will promoted Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon to hitting coach for the 2017 season, according to a statement released by the team on Friday afternoon.
McClendon’s history with the Tigers is long and storied. After serving five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitting coach and manager, he got his start with Detroit in 2006 as a bullpen coach, then transitioned to hitting coach from 2007 through 2013. When the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus to replace former manager Jim Leyland, McClendon took the opportunity to break from the team and pursue another managerial position of his own with the Seattle Mariners, whom he guided to a 163-161 record between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Following his departure from Seattle during the 2015 offseason, McClendon took a spot as skipper of the Tigers’ Triple-A club, managing the Toledo Mud Hens to a 68-76 finish in 2016. His return to the big league stage is accompanied by the hiring of assistant hitting coach Leon Durham, who previously served as the long-tenured hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo.