Mariners and Hisashi Iwakuma agree to contract extension

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UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Iwakuma will get $14 million guaranteed. He’ll make $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons while there’s a $1 million buyout on a $7 million option for 2015.

11:29 PM: Hisashi Iwakuma was hours away from reaching free agency, but the Mariners swooped in at the last minute tonight and signed him to a two-year extension with a club option for 2015. Terms haven’t been disclosed.

As Larry Stone of the Seattle Times points out, there was a sense of urgency to get a deal done today. Per a stipulation in the one-year contract Iwakuma signed last offseason, if he re-signed with the Mariners after Saturday’s deadline, he would be ineligible to play for the club until May 15 of next year.

Iwakuma thrived after getting a chance in the Mariners’ rotation this July, going 9-4 with a 2.65 ERA and a 78/28 K/BB ratio over 95 innings. The 31-year-old right-hander will return to a rotation which is set to include Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. Erasmo Ramirez and Blake Beavan are the likely frontrunners for the other two spots.

Report: Nationals to interview Alex Cora for managerial position

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.

Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.

Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.