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Mariners give Iwakuma qualifying offer

Club to receive Draft pick if pitcher signs elsewhere

SEATTLE -- The Mariners extended a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer to free-agent pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on Friday, and the right-hander has seven days to accept or decline the deal.

General manager Jerry Dipoto indicated getting Iwakuma back is the Mariners' top offseason goal.

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"Our priority here is to make sure we bring him back," Dipoto told MLB Network. "He's an important piece to what we're doing and what we've done. He fits this ballclub very well. He fits this ballpark very well. And quite frankly, he fits in our clubhouse very well. That's a priority for us. You never know once the market opens up how it's going to go, but that has been Item A on our shopping list for the offseason."

None of the 34 Major League players who've been extended qualifying offers in the previous three seasons have accepted the deal, instead electing to become free agents and attempting to negotiate multiyear contracts.

Qualifying offers have only been in place since MLB's current Collective Bargaining Agreement began in 2013. Seattle's only previous qualifying offer was to Kendrys Morales in 2014.

Iwakuma has been one of the American League's best right-handed starters over the past four years, posting a 47-25 record and a 3.17 ERA in 111 games, including 97 starts. He was a 2013 AL All-Star and threw a no-hitter Aug. 12 against the Orioles.

The 34-year-old spent 10 weeks on the disabled list in 2015 with a strained lat muscle, but Iwakuma came back to finish the year with a 9-5 record and a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts.

If Iwakuma declines the offer and signs elsewhere, the Mariners will receive a compensatory pick at the end of the first round in next year's Draft.

The two sides could still agree to a multiyear deal, even if Iwakuma rejects the qualifying offer. He earned $7 million per season over the past two years.

The qualifying offer is based on the average of the top 125 salaries in MLB the previous year. The number was $13.3 million in 2013, $14.1 million in '14 and $15.3 million last season.

The deadline to accept or decline this year's offer is Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. PT.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Seattle Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma