Last Updated on July 23, 2015 by

IwakumaIf Hisashi Iwakuma goes out in five days and pitches well again, the Seattle Mariners absolutely will have the opportunity to trade the right-hander to a contender, and the package Oakland received in exchange for Scott Kazmir could serve as a baseline for any deal Seattle makes involving the 34-year-old. This should increase the chances the club makes such a trade.

Iwakuma isn’t going to bring back the same level of package as Kazmir just did — he hasn;t been as good in 2015 and is even more of a concern to clubs in terms of his health, but Kazmir returned a potential future above-average everyday catcher in Jacob Nottingham plus a future back-end starter or reliever in Daniel Mengden.

Such a haul suggests Seattle could net something useful in return for Iwakuma, provided he doesn’t blow up next time out. He’ thrown the ball well three straight times out and despite giving up for homersin his first start off the disabled list, he did show something in that one, too. He’s struck out 18 in his last 20 2/3 innings, walked just four over that span and has induced a lot of ground balls outs. His four starts since being activated have been versus Detroit twice, the Yankees and a red-hot Angels club, too.

Iwakuma could be attractive to clubs that don’t like the asking price for Jeff Samardzija, David Price, Johnny Cueto and even Mike Leake. Those interested in Leake or other mid-rotation types could end up with a better deal and a better pitcher in Iwakuma, who has looked the part of a No. 2-3 type starter of late.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted earlier Thursday that indications are the Mariners are “hesitant to sell.”

Of course they are, because it tells the fan base that 2015 is a failed season, which doesn’t bode well for attendance, TV ratings or the job security of the general manager. It’s the right things to do, however, which is why the A’s went ahead and did so, even though starting play Thursday they were ahead of the Mariners in the standings.

Reports surfaced last week that Detroit, who sits several games ahead of Seattle, is exploring trading their own pending free agents such as ace David Price and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. More evidence that a smart seller can take advantage of so clubs preferring to buy this summer.

Clubs that may see Iwakuma as ideal may include the Baltimore Orioles, who want to add a bat and perhaps a starter, too, but don’t have a lot of ammo to land both and as a result could get left in the cold for the bigger names. The Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals (who need multiple starting pitchers) and even San Francisco Giants also could see a reasonably-priced Iwakuma as a solid option.

Waiting to ‘make sure’ they’re out of the race before selling could cost the Mariners a chance to capitalize on the market. Doing so with Iwakuma and/or J.A. Happ is a ridiculous mistake, especially considering a perfectly capable Roenis Elias is awaiting a recall from Triple-A Tacoma. If the M’s get hot and somehow find themselves in the race in late September, it won’t be because of a negative value differential between Iwakuma (or Happ) and Elias. Not to mention there’s still a chance James Paxton makes it back at some point.



  1. It’s a 2-month rental of a pitcher far from automatic to make every start between now and the end of the Astros’ season. Getting a prospect as good as Jacob Nottingham is a very strong haul. If we were talking about David Price or a Kazmir-level arm under contract beyond 2015, it would be a light get for Oakland.

    1.5 years of Price himself was worth Smyly, Adames and Franklin last summer. There are no elite talents in that trio at all.

    You are allowed to re-sign the player after trading him away for two months, too.

    Re: Iwakuma — All I could find was reports that Iwakuma cannot be tendered the QO. But it doesn’t matter. You can’t offer THAT guy with THAT recent medical record $15 million for one year. Can’t.

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    I didn’t think that the return for Kasmir was particularly good. It was okay, but nothing came back that would appear to be destine to crack the 25-man roster. Unless some team offers something that could help in 2016, or has a high ceiling, might as well hold on to hem, and see if you can extend him for a couple more years. You can never have too much pitching.

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    I had thought that the Ms weren’t able to offer Iwakuma a QO this offseason. Apparently that isn’t the case: Dave Cameron cited someone in the org that they can.

    That sets the minimum value for Iwakuma. His current value isn’t that high, but the Ms can always hold onto him, offer him a another 2-year extension, and always have the QO. Thus, the ms probably should keep him unless the can get something roughly similar in value to a late first round pick.

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