There’s no official word yet on which team submitted the winning bid for exclusive negotiating rights with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, but his agent Don Nomura tweeted the following a short time ago:
岩隈さん Oakland Athletics!!!!
Translated, that reads: “Iwakuma’s Oakland Athletics!!!!”
Jon Heyman of SI.com has confirmed the news.
Oakland must still work out an actual contract with Iwakuma, as their winning bid only gives them the right to negotiate with him. If the two sides can agree to a contract within the next 30 days, the bid amount will go to his old team in Japan and Iwakuma will receive whatever deal he works out with the A’s.
Iwakuma is 29 years old and had a 2.81 ERA 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 No. 2 pitcher in Japan behind phenom Yu Darvish and when pitching in the World Baseball Classic last year one AL scout 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.”
Definitely an unexpected move from the A’s, who’re already pretty flush with young starting pitching and aren’t exactly known for throwing around money.