Throughout the 30-day window for the A’s to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma agent Don Nomura criticized the team via Twitter and now that the window has closed without a contract being signed his criticisms are even more plentiful.
Nomura told the Associated Press that the A’s “never showed any respect” and “their offer was low and they weren’t sincere.”
It’s easy to paint the A’s as the bad guys and it wouldn’t be surprising if they were less than ultra-motivated to work out a contract that wasn’t favorable to them, but the “posting system” for Japanese players is more to blame and Nomura’s reported asking price for Iwakuma was also significantly above the precedents established by previous Japanese players coming to MLB.
Oakland bid $19.1 million for the exclusive negotiating rights to Iwakuma and the money was refunded when the two sides were unable to work out a deal. From the A’s point of view they took a headline-grabbing flier on a player they liked, couldn’t come to an agreement, and moved on with their lives. From Iwakuma’s point of view his plans were ruined and he now heads back to Japan for another season, but the system working that way isn’t the A’s fault.
Beyond that, previous Japanese players signing with MLB teams have agreed to contracts roughly equal to the posting fee. Oakland offered Iwakuma a four-year, $15.25 million contract that was slightly below the $19.1 million bid, but Nomura was reportedly asking for a three-year deal worth at least $35 million. In terms of following precedent, the A’s offer was much closer to the norm than Nomura’s demands.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.