Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto had said going into this offseason that re-signing Hisashi Iwakuma was a priority, and Friday just before the deadline, the Mariners extended a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer to the Japanese right hander.
Iwakuma will have until November 13 to accept the offer or else become a free agent. If he does elect to pursue free agency, the Mariners will most likely try to sign him to a multi-year deal.
After coming over from Japan, Iwakuma has played four seasons in the majors, all with Seattle. The past two seasons he has played for a salary of $7 million per year.
Iwakuma, 34, achieved most of his success in 2013 when he was an All Star and posted an ERA of 2.66 and a record of 14-6. This past season in 2015, Iwakuma battled injuries, but still started 20 games going 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA and threw a no-hitter on August 12 against the Baltimore Orioles.
With this offer, the Mariners have made two moves towards their starting rotation in 2016. Thursday night Seattle acquired Nathan Karns from the Rays as apart of a six-player trade. Seattle’s rotation will have some good competition come Spring Training as Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Roenis Elias, Vidal Nuno and Mike Montgomery were all guys that contributed in 2015.
Keeping Iwakuma seems like a must for Seattle as there is a lot of uncertainty from the rest of this group (aside from King Felix, of course). Dipoto has said that he wants to create depth throughout the organization. If Nuno or Elias or Montgomery can become that depth, this team will be stronger come September when they will potentially be competing for a postseason bid.
Iwakuma is a good veteran presence who is a reliable option for this Mariners ball club to throw out there every fifth day. With this being potentially his last chance at a long term contract, it will be interesting to see if he goes for the money or goes for the long-term security, which could come at a bit of a pay cut.