Seattle Mariners rumors indicate that Hisashi Iwakuma has received a contract offer from the team. These Mariners rumors seem to confirm that the team wants to bring him back for at least one more season at Safeco Field. A report from CBS Sports states the Mariners have extended a qualifying offer to Iwakuma. This means that the team has put a one-year contract offer out there, protecting itself, in case Iwakuma decides to leave the Mariners during free agency.
The qualifying offer would give Iwakuma a one-year salary of $15.8 million for the 2016 MLB season, if he accepts it. From a player, it is a big raise for a single season, but it also keeps them from getting a longer contract. If the team loses the player in free agency, it then gets an extra selection in the 2016 MLB Draft. An interesting fact about qualifying offers is that in the three years it has been a part of MLB contracts, no player has accepted the one-year deal.
There have already been a lot of Seattle Mariners rumors this offseason, especially when it comes to front office moves. The Mariners hired Jerry Dipoto as the new general manager, hired Scott Servais as a new manager, and completed a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. In that deal, Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, and Danny Farquhar were exchanged for starting pitcher Nathan Karns, relief pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser, and outfield prospect Boog Powell. Karns will likely be an immediate addition to the starting rotation for the Mariners.
Dipoto has already made it clear that he is looking to improve the team through trades and internal moves, so it would make sense for the Mariners to retain Iwakuma. Last season, Iwakuma threw a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles, showing that he could still have a lot to offer the team. There were rumors that he might be considering retirement from the game, but that talk quieted down toward the end of the 2015 MLB season.
In four seasons and 97 starts for the Seattle Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma has a 47-25 record, a 3.17 ERA, and a 1.082 WHIP. He will be 35-years-old for the 2016 MLB season and would command a salary higher than the $7 million he was paid last year. Baseball Reference projects him to post a 10-6 record, a 3.59 ERA, and a 1.126 WHIP in 2016, though it also has him pitching only 143 innings and also notching a save. The save is an oddity, suggesting the projections might not be that trustworthy.
Two years ago, the Mariners offered Kendrys Morales a qualifying offer when his contract came to an end. He ended up holding out for a new contract and didn’t sign until June 8 of the following season. That deal with the Minnesota Twins didn’t last very long, as he ended up getting traded to the Mariners on July 24. Due to his holdout, the Mariners didn’t get a draft pick for Morales, but it also hurt his value quite a bit. That value rebounded when he performed well for the Kansas City Royals this past season.
Currently the Mariners have Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Roenis Elias, Mike Montgomery, Vidal Nuno, Taijuan Walker, and Nathan Karns as starting pitchers on the 40-man roster. It’s possible that Jerry Dipoto expects to lose Hisashi Iwakuma in free agency or to retirement, which could have pushed the team into making the deal to acquire Karns. It could lead to more Seattle Mariners rumors in regard to signing a less expensive free agent pitcher. For now, Iwakuma has to decide if he wants to sign for one more season with a big raise.
[Photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]