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.
If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.
“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.
Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.