Two months ago Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was said to be interested in leaving the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for MLB and now the Kyoda News reports that he’s officially been “posted” as an available player.
According to the report, MLB teams “will have until Friday to submit sealed bids and the highest paying club will win the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with the player, upon approval of the price by his Japanese club.”
In other words, Iwakuma could shake up the offseason market before free agency even officially begins.
Iwakuma is a 29-year-old right-hander with a 2.81 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 201 innings this season. His best year came in 2008, when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP. He’s considered by many to be the second-best pitcher in Japan behind phenom Yu Darvish and multiple teams figure to submit a bid of at least $10 million for the exclusive negotiating rights, particularly since the free agent market for starters is underwhelming beyond Cliff Lee.
When he was pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic last year one AL scout called Iwakuma “very impressive across the board” and told Baseball America that he “would step into any rotation in the majors right now” and “might be the No. 1 [starter] for half the teams in the majors.”