Hisashi Iwakuma

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.

Mets tell Jay Bruce they plan on having him start in right field

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Jay Bruce #19 of the New York Mets reacts after striking out in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on September 22, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The Mets told Jay Bruce that the club plans on having him open the season as the everyday right fielder, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. This comes as no surprise after the Mets failed to get any bites after dangling Bruce as a trade chip. The Mets reportedly wanted a pair of prospects in exchange for Bruce.

With Bruce in right, Yoenis Cespedes back in left, and Curtis Granderson in center, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out. He’ll either warm the bench or head back to Triple-A Las Vegas for regular at-bats.

Bruce, who turns 30 years old in April, had a rough final two months of the 2016 season after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. He hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 plate appearances. Bruce, apparently, wanted to go anywhere but in New York.

Angels sign Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 11:  Eric Young Jr. #4 of the Atlanta Braves slides safely into third base on a RBI triple in the fifth inning against the New York Mets during the Braves opening series at Turner Field on April 11, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Andrelton Simmons #19 scored on the triple.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.

The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.