A’s win bidding for Japanese pitcher
The A’s have won the bidding for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.
Iwakuma’s Japanese team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, have accepted the bid, and now the A’s need to negotiate a contract with Iwakuma, who is considered the second-best pitcher in Japan behind Yu Darvish.
The posting process Iwakuma closed Friday, and the A’s, Rangers and Mariners were among the clubs to submit bids, according to major-league sources.
The A’s made a strong push with the idea of creating a surplus of starting pitching that would help them trade for a hitter.
The A’s entered a partnership with Rakuten in Jan. 2009, agreeing to share information on player development and data analysis and exchange baseball operations staff, including coaches, strength and conditioning specialists and medical personnel.
At first glance, the A’s would seem an unlikely suitor for Iwakuma; the team led the American League in rotation ERA by a wide margin last season, and none of their returning five starting pitchers is older than 27.
However, the A’s have struggled to attract free-agent hitters to Oakland in recent years. The addition of Iwakuma would enable them to trade a starter such as righty Vin Mazzaro — or perhaps even Iwakuma himself — for a bat.
Third base is one area of need for the A’s. The Brewers, one of several teams looking for starting pitching, could be a match if they were willing to part with Casey McGehee.
Iwakuma, 29, is 101-62 with a 3.32 ERA in 10 seasons in Japan, including 10-9 with a 2.82 ERA last season.
He will return to Rakuten if the Golden Eagles do not accept the A’s bid or if he is unable to successfully negotiate a contract with Oakland.