A’s break off talks with Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma

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A bit of a shocker here.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that talks have “broken off” between the A’s and Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.

The A’s bid $15 million in early November for the right to negotiate exclusively with Iwakuma, but Slusser says that he was looking for “Barry Zito type” money and Oakland declined to take that risk.  Zito landed a seven-year, $126 million from the Giants before the start of the 2007 season.

Iwakuma, 29, posted a 2.81 ERA in 201 innings this year for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.  He had a career year in 2008 when he registered a 21-4 record and 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP.

The righty will head back to Japan for 2011.  If he again posts great numbers, he could try to break into Major League Baseball next winter.

Oakland traded starter Vin Mazzaro to the Royals this fall for outfielder David DeJesus with the idea of making room in the starting rotation for Iwakuma.  They do have some depth, but it’s quite possible that GM Billy Beane will be active on the free agent market this winter in order to fill the hole left by Iwakuma’s decision.  If the A’s don’t add a starter, Bobby Cramer, Josh Outman and Tyson Ross will probably battle for the final rotation spot in spring training.