Iwakuma's deal with Dodgers hits potential snag
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have backed away from a tentative agreement with free-agent starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, presumably because of health concerns, but haven't completely closed the door to signing him, according to a baseball source.
A three-year, $45 million agreement was reportedly reached Dec. 6, pending a physical exam for Iwakuma, who turns 35 in April. His signing was meant to help plug the hole created when Zack Greinke opted out of his contract and signed with Arizona.
The club has not confirmed the reports and is prohibited from discussing details of physical exams without player consent. It is possible the two sides can rework the contract.
It is not unheard of for a team to do that after noticing something during a physical. For example, the Red Sox renegotiated a three-year, $39 million deal with Mike Napoli in January 2013 after discovering a hip condition during a physical. He ended up signing a deal that guaranteed only $5 million over one season.
Iwakuma battled injuries the past two seasons -- a sprained finger in 2014 and strained lat muscle in 2015 -- limiting him to 179 and 129 1/3 innings, respectively. But when healthy, he has pitched well, going 47-25 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in four seasons with the Mariners after a 12-year career in Japan. He was 9-5 with a career-high 3.54 ERA in 2015 and tossed a no-hitter.
If the Dodgers do sign Iwakuma, they will forfeit their first-round Draft pick (No. 25 overall), because Iwakuma rejected a qualifying offer from the Mariners. The Dodgers did receive a compensatory pick after the first round for losing Greinke.
A ground-ball specialist whose velocity rarely exceeds 90 mph, Iwakuma was an All-Star and finished third in Cy Young voting in 2013, when he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 219 2/3 innings. He earned $7 million in 2015.
Without Iwakuma, the Dodgers' starting rotation consists of Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson and Alex Wood, with Hyun-Jin Ryu a question mark as he tries to return from shoulder surgery. Brandon McCarthy, signed last winter to a four-year deal, won't return from Tommy John surgery until midseason.