Mariners Add Some Cheap Upside With Iwak

  • The Mariners are one of the better run-prevention teams in baseball, and yesterday they put into a pitching staff that allowed the fourth fewest runs (675) within the American League this past year by receiving a one-year hire Hisashi Iwakuma. The 30-year-old right-hander will earn just a $1.5 million base salary in 2012, with another $3.4 million available in incentives a sociated with starts and innings pitched.

    This deal comes twelve months after the Athletics won Iwakumas negotiating rights having a $19.1 million bid with the posting proce s, though the two sides failed to reach an agreement and the righty wound up back in Japan before becoming an international free agent this winter season. Oakland was thinking something along the lines of $3-5 million each year while Iwakuma was said to Haloti Ngata Jersey be seeking Barry Zito money. The 2 sides never got close, so he returned to the Rakuten Golden Eagles on a one-year, $3.6 million contract.

    Unfortunately for Iwakuma, his stock took a succe s this year. He mi sed area of the season with a shoulder injury, which caused his fastball velocity to dip from the usual 88-92 into the 84-86 range. Patrick Newman has a velocity chart over at NPB Tracker. The fastball climbed back into the upper-80s by the end of the season, alleviating some concerns. Iwakuma includes a small kitchen sink approach, pitching backwards and throwing offspeed stuff in pretty much any count. His slider and forkball are in front of his curveball Za'Darius Smith Jersey and changeup. Like most Asian pitchers, he adds a bit of deception to his delivery having a hesitation. Heres a relevant video of him pitching in the 2009 World Baseball Cla sic, using the forkball on full display.

    Iwakuma isn't Yu Darvish, at least not when it comes to mi sing bats and accumulating strikeouts. His best single-season strikeout rate over the last 4 years is 7.1 K/9 and 20.2 K% in 2008, and also over the last three seasons its a 6.7 K/9 and 18.2 K%. Iwakuma has limited walks though (1.8 BB/9 and 4.9 BB% last three years), so that as Patrick explained last offseason, he receives a great deal of ground balls and generally keeps the ball in the park (0.7 HR/9 last 3 years). Safeco Field will help him out a little Nick Boyle Jersey in that regard, but batters listed here are more capable of the long ball than the guys Iwakuma is accustomed to facing in Japan. Patrick pegged his upside in the mid-rotation starter range last winter, but we probably have to adjust down a bit given his newest injury*.

    * Its worth noting that his health i sues extend further back than simply 2011; shoulder woes limited him to just 128.2 IP from 2006-2007, and that he also had an elbow procedure late in 2007.

    As far as the Mariners are worried, the deal is basically nothing but upside. A $1.5 million base salary is a pittance, le s than what Yuniesky Betancourt and Fernando Rodney signed for this offseason. The bonuses dont start working until he makes 20 starts or throws 140 IP based on Geoff Baker from the Seattle Times, which gives the team ample time to evaluate his performance and decide whether or not to keep him around all year long. If he pitches poorly, theyll cut him. Simple as that.

    I dont wish to go too overboard with the upside Tony Jefferson Jerseybecause Iwakuma is still a soon-to-be 31-year-old righty with a fringy fastball plus theres a decent chance hell be a sub-6.0 K/9 guy but theres very little risk so far as Seattle is concerned. All he needs to provide the Mariners is all about half-a-win to become well worth the base salary, though a 2 or three-win season isnt completely from question having a favorable home park and a strong defense behind him. The Ms did well to scoop up a back from the rotation candidate for thus cheap when comparable hurlers are getting two guaranteed years and up to $6 million per season around the open market.