The veteran right-hander told reporters in Japan that the Mariners offered him a chance to a return this season.
Could the Mariners and Hisashi Iwakuma give it one more try?
The veteran right-hander believes it’s a possibility. Speaking to a group of reporters in Kyodo, Japan, Iwakuma said that the team has offered him an opportunity to return to the organization.
“It’s not a done deal, but I have received an offer,” he told reporters.
It was the first time that Iwakuma has spoken to the media since he became a free agent. He didn’t provide any further details of the situation or the contract offer.
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Given his age and his injury issues, particularly this past season, it’s difficult to see the Mariners offering Iwakuma anything more than a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training or a “split contract” that’s a minor league deal with a certain amount of money guaranteed and locked-in incentives if he were to be placed on the 25-man roster.
Iwakuma, 36, made six starts in 2017, going 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 12 walks. He went on the 10-day disabled list on May 10 with shoulder inflammation and never pitched again. He made numerous attempts to come back, including two rehab starts in mid-June. But the shoulder never bounced back from the outings. He finally underwent surgery on Sept. 28.
He told reporters he wasn’t sure when he would be back and ready to pitch, but hoped to be ready by the start of the season.
Based on the free agent contract he signed before the 2016 season, Iwakuma had a $15 million club option for 2018 that vested automatically if he reached 162 innings in 2017 or 324 innings combined between 2016-17. He pitched just 31 innings this season so the option didn’t vest. The Mariners wisely chose not to exercise the option and will pay Iwakuma a $1 million buyout.
This probably isn’t the type of pitching addition that fans are craving. But teams bring in veterans every year at spring training on minor league deals with opt outs. Bringing back Iwakuma on a split or minor league deal would be a courtesy to a player that has been nothing but professional in his time with the Mariners. It would be minimal risk move in terms of dollars with some future potential for upside or depth.
Iwakuma has spent all six years of…