UPDATE: A’s also in the mix for Hisashi Iwakuma, Rangers may have bid too low

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2:04 PM: More intrigue from Rosenthal. He tells us that the Athletics also submitted a bid for Iwakuma and that the Rangers’ bid may have actually been too low. According to Rosenthal, the A’s would like to add Iwakuma in order to acquire a hitter from their surplus of starting pitching.

1:15 PM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Rangers may have the highest bid for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Last night, a Japanese media report suggested that the Mariners were the front-runners.

While we still have no official word about who has the highest bid, Rosenthal confirms that the Rangers did indeed make a bid and writes that it’s possible other AL West clubs are involved. Stay tuned.

10:21 AM: Still no confirmation that the Mariners actually have the highest bid for Iwakuma, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times tells us that the Golden Eagles have until next Thursday to decide whether to accept the winning bid. If they do, the MLB team can begin negotiations with Iwakuma.

Friday, 11:00 PM: Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker tweets that the bidding for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has closed, with more than one team submitting a bid. According to MLB Trade Rumors, a report from Sports Hochi says that the Mariners are supposedly in the lead with a bid of $13 million.

Iwakuma’s team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, were hoping for a posting fee around $16-17 million and they reserve the right to reject the winning bid.

Many consider Ikakuma to be the second best pitcher in Japan behind Yu Darvish. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 2.82 ERA and 153/36 K/BB ratio over 201 innings this season. He earned the Pacific League MVP when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA in 2008 and turned some heads stateside by posting a 1.35 ERA and 15/6 K/BB ratio over four games (three starts) in the World Baseball Classic last year.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.