After failing to sign with A’s last offseason, Hisashi Iwakuma will give MLB another try in 2012

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This winter Oakland secured exclusive negotiating rights with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma by bidding $19 million, but that posting fee was refunded when the two sides couldn’t agree to a contract during a contentious negotiating process.

At the time Iwakuma’s agent, Don Nomura, publicly criticized the A’s on Twitter and via various media members, but now Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that he’s dropped Nomura and hired Paul Cobbe as his new agent with an eye toward giving MLB another shot this offseason.

Crasnick notes that because Iwakuma has now played 10 seasons in Japan he can become an outright free agent without the need for a bidding process, posting fee, or exclusive negotiating rights. In other words, he’ll simply hit the open market alongside other impending free agent pitchers.

Opinions vary on whether Iwakuma is capable of being a top-of-the-rotation starter in MLB or projects as more of a mid-rotation guy, but either way the 30-year-old right-hander will have no shortage of offers.

Melvin Upton released by the Giants

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Jon Heyman reports that the Giants have released outfielder Melvin Upton. He requested his release.

Upton, who turned 33 yesterday, signed with San Francisco in early April after the Blue Jays released him. It was a minor league deal. After recovering from a rash of minor injuries, Upton batted .244/.306/.333 in 12 games at Triple-A Sacramento. There was no indication that the Giants were going to call him up. I presume that, back when they signed him, they figured they’d be contending and could maybe use a veteran bat. That’s obviously not the case anymore.

I suppose it’s possible that someone gives Upton a look when rosters expand in eight days, but I figure it’s more likely that we’ll next see him as he fights to make a team on a minor league deal next spring.

Carlos Santana left last night’s game with back tightness

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Andrew Miller leaving last night’s Indians-Red Sox game got all the press, but the Indians lost another key player in the game as well: Carlos Santana. He was forced to leave after going 0-for-3. There was no followup announcement after the game, so he’s likely being reevaluated.

Santana is hitting .250/.355/.446 on the year, but he’s been pretty hot of late, hitting .375 with a couple of homers in the past week.