Yu Darvish isn’t the only Japanese starting pitcher planning to skip the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
From the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, comes word that Hisashi Iwakuma has decided not to pitch for Japan and “will instead focus on preparing for his second season with the Seattle Mariners.”
Iwakuma inked a two-year, $14 million contract extension with the M’s earlier this month after registering a fantastic 3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 101/43 K/BB ratio across 125 1/3 innings in 2012. The deal also includes a $7 million option for 2015.
Darvish and Iwakuma both pitched for Team Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. That group won the country’s second straight title, with Daisuke Matsuzaka earning his second straight tournament MVP.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.