Mariners re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma after Dodgers deal falls through

Dec 17, 2015, 9:42 PM | Updated: Jan 15, 2016, 10:14 am
The Mariners have re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma to a one-year deal with vesting options in 2017 and 201...
The Mariners have re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma to a one-year deal with vesting options in 2017 and 2018. (AP)
(AP)

In a stunning turn of events, the Mariners have a late addition to their starting rotation. Just over 12 hours after news came from Japan that Hisashi Iwakuma had failed his physical with the Dodgers, the Mariners announced they have re-signed him to a one-year contract with vesting options for 2017 and 2018.

“We said from the start that Kuma was a priority for us,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in the team’s press release. “Obviously, the developments from the last few days allowed us to get back in the game. It’s a credit to our ownership; to Howard Lincoln, to Kevin Mather, to our entire ownership group that we were able to get aggressive and find a way to bring Kuma back to the Mariners. We’re all thrilled. This is a big move for us. We feel like this really puts a finishing touch on what we think has been a very productive off-season.”

To make room for Iwakuma on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated outfielder Dan Robertson for assignment. Seattle claimed Robertson, 30, off waives from the Angels on Nov. 6.

The Mariners had reportedly made a two-year offer to Iwakuma that was topped by the Dodgers, who came in with a three-year, $45 million offer that he agreed to Dec. 6. Questions about why that deal had yet to be finalized started to arise in the last 24 hours, and news that Iwakuma failed his physical came via the Jiji-Press out of Japan Thursday morning. There were reports throughout the day that the Dodgers were trying to rework the deal, but the Mariners in the end got the job done.

From the day he took over as the Mariners’ general manager, Jerry Dipoto insisted that re-signing Iwakuma was the team’s priority. He was willing to wait to see how Iwakuma’s market would develop and said on “The Hot Stove” show last Friday that the Mariners did not engage with other free-agent starters while “they were working through it with Kuma.”

The day after it appeared the Mariners had lost Iwakuma to the Dodgers, however, they made a trade with the Boston Red Sox for Wade Miley. While he might not have the stuff Iwakuma has, Miley can give the team needed innings. Now Dipoto has both.

If the season were to start today, the Mariners would be looking at a rotation headed by Felix Hernandez and followed by Iwakuma, Miley, Taijuan Walker and either Nate Karns or James Paxton. The signing creates much needed starter depth with one of Karns or Paxton most likely ticketed for Tacoma.

Dipoto credits Mariners ownership for allowing the move that most likely puts him well over budget. While the dollars are yet to be known, the Mariners are once again getting Iwakuma on at the very least team-friendly terms. With the vesting options, they are protected if Iwakuma runs into injury problems. If he doesn’t, they get another year of him.

Iwakuma made 20 starts in 2015, missing over two months with a lat strain. He made three starts before the injury, going 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA. After a rocky first start back from the disabled list, he went 9-4 in 16 games – including a no-hitter – with a 2.82 ERA the remainder of the season.

We will talk more about this deal with both Iwakuma and Dipoto on Friday.

Seattle Mariners

Mariners Casey Sadler...
Brent Stecker

Mariners Moves: Rule 5 Draft additions, losses; Casey Sadler returns

The Mariners added three players and lost three players in Wednesday's Rule 5 Draft. Details on that and the return of reliever Casey Sadler.
23 hours ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger...
Brent Stecker

Mitch Haniger posts open letter to Mariners fans after joining Giants

For the second offseason in a row, Mitch Haniger has written something addressed to Mariners fans. The latest may be more of a tearjerker, though, because of the circumstances around it.
23 hours ago
Bryan Reynolds Mariners offseason...
Brent Stecker

Hot Stove Hype: Can Mariners finally pull off a Bryan Reynolds trade?

Bryan Reynolds, an All-Star outfielder the Mariners have reportedly been interested in before, wants out of Pittsburgh, so Wyman and Bob talked to a Pirates reporter about him.
23 hours ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger...
The Associated Press

MLB Free Agency Roundup: Mitch Haniger to SF after 6 years with Mariners

Longtime Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger went to San Francisco as part of a flurry of activity at MLB's winter meetings on Tuesday.
2 days ago
Mariners offseason Tyler O'Neill...
Mike Salk

Salk: 10 options for the Mariners to complete their outfield

The Mariners have made three notable additions, and the fourth should be an outfielder. Mike Salk breaks down who the targets could be.
3 days ago
Mariners Teoscar Hernandez...
Brent Stecker

Mariners Breakdown: Offseason check-in — trades, what comes next

Bob Stelton of Seattle Sports' Wyman and Bob is back for a special offseason edition of his Mariners breakdown video series.
3 days ago
Mariners re-sign Hisashi Iwakuma after Dodgers deal falls through