It seems that the Oakland A’s are the team with the winning bid for Hisashi Iwakuma. According to reports, including Ken Rosenthal‘s over on FOXSports.com, the Athletics have won the negotiating rights to Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. The A’s have 30 days (from Nov.8) to come to terms with Iwakuma, and draw out a contract with Iwakuma.
Iwakuma, 29, is seen throughout baseball as a good MLB pitching prospect, and that bodes well for Oakland. In 209 innings of work this year for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Iwakuma posted a 2.82 ERA while also putting up a 6.9 K/9 rate.
At 29, Iwakuma posses the make-up of good fastball/slider/forkball right-handed pitcher, and according to Patrick Newman of FanGraphs.com, Iwakuma is certainly a player most wouldn’t mind having on their team. Newman calls Iwakuma, “the second best MLB pitching prospect currently active in the NPB.” According to Newman, Iwakuma posses a good fastball in the 95 mph range, but will often work around the 90-91 mph range. While Newman also points out that Iwakuma’s repertoire of pitches are nothing outstanding or extraordinary, he does note that Iwakuma posses great command of all his pitches.
If the A’s do in fact reach a deal with Iwakuma, it would mean added depth to their already strong rotation. The A’s led the American League in ERA (3.56) and also led baseball in quality starts (103) this season. Adding Iwakuma to a rotation that includes starters Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden would put Oakland in a very, very good place for next year.
It’s also thought that the A’s are adding Iwakuma for the sole purpose of using him as trade bait as they try to address their offensive needs this winter. The A’s ranked28th in home runs this season, and while the team did improve to a .500 record this season, the team really needs to address their issues on offense if they are to gain ground next season in the AL West.
The A’s have plenty of arms that they could deal, and adding Iwakuma could make the team even more flexible with trades. Among the leading candidates that the A’s could deal is Vin Mazzaro, who started 18 games this year for Oakland, and compiled a 6-8 record while posting a 4.27 ERA in 122.1 innings. Mazzaro, 24, is still a very bright young player, with some upside, but with Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez emerging as future stars, Oakland would probably be more willing to part with Mazzaro in their search for some offense.
Free agency has not been kind to Oakland in their attempts to persuade players to play in Oakland’s ghostly Coliseum, but with Iwakuma, some of the stress of searching the free agent market for some much needed offense is relieved in a way. The A’s—if they add Iwakuma—will have plenty of depth in pitching, and could pull off a trade to acquire an impact hitter.
Either way you look at this, the A’s are starting off the winter in a very aggressive manner. This is just the beginning, but what a way to start the offseason, don’t you think?
Tags: A's A's Bidding A's News A's Rumors AL AL West Baseball Bidding Brett Anderson Dallas Braden Gio Gonzalez Hisashi Iwakuma Japanese Pitching MLB MLB Rumors MLB Transactions Oakland Oakland A's Oakland Athletics Oakland Athletics Rumors Pitchers Promotions Seattle Mariners Texas Rangers Transactions Trevor Cahill Vin Mazzaro