A’s and Hisashi Iwakuma unlikely to work out a deal

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The A’s won the rights to bid exclusively on Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma earlier this winter, but they balked at his initial asking price: a three-year deal worth about $12 million annually.  And while negotiations have continued, it seems unlikely that an agreement will be reached by tonight’s midnight deadline.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s would need to schedule a physical sometime today in order to finalize an agreement by this evening.  No physical has yet been scheduled.

Iwakuma will head back to Japan for another year and attempt to pad his stats for another run at MLB free agency next winter.  He posted a 2.81 ERA in 201 innings this year for the Rakuten Golden Eagles and experienced a career year in 2008 when he turned in a 21-4 record and 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP.

He’s only 29 and will draw heavy interest again next offseason if he makes himself available.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.