SEATTLE – Free agent right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma signed an incentive-laced, one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, a year after his attempted move to the majors through the posting system ended in failure.
According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the 30-year-old Iwakuma will receive a base salary of $1.5 million plus performance bonuses that would make the deal worth well over $3.9 million, or ¥300 million — the amount he made with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles last season.
Iwakuma, who was the Pacific League MVP and won the Sawamura Award after winning 21 games in 2008, was put up for bidding last offseason. The Oakland Athletics won his negotiating rights, but the two parties could not come to terms during the exclusive 30-day negotiating period.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to get results over the next year,” Iwakuma said during a conference call. “I accept what they offered, and I’ll work for everything.”
“I felt the Mariners were the team that wanted me most. I went to Seattle, and it seems like a nice place to live.”
Iwakuma, who was instrumental in Japan winning the 2009 World Baseball Classic, has a career ERA of 3.25 with a 107-69 record in 11 seasons with Rakuten and the Kintetsu Buffaloes.
Last year, he went 6-7 and was limited to 119 innings in 17 starts because of an injury to his throwing shoulder, but still posted a solid 2.42 ERA.
Iwakuma will join a rotation anchored by Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas, with several young arms competing for a fourth and fifth slot.
Iwakuma is the sixth Japanese player the Mariners have signed following Ichiro Suzuki, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Mac Suzuki and Kenji Johjima.
Seattle, has also invited shortstop Munenori Kawasaki to spring training.
No contract for Nakajima
The New York Yankees said Thursday that their negotiations with shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima have ended without a contract.
“We unfortunately could not come to an agreement with Hiroyuki,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement issued by the team. “We wish him the best of luck during the upcoming 2012 season.”
The announcement comes a day before the end of the Yankees’ exclusive 30-day negotiating window with Nakajima.
Under the rules of the posting system, the Yankees’ modest winning bid of $2.5 million will be refunded since no deal was struck and Nakajima will return to the Seibu Lions.
“It’s disappointing we couldn’t work something out,” Nakajima said. “But I’m grateful to the Lions for posting me and the Yankees for bidding.”
Nakajima is a four-time Pacific League All-Star with a .302 career batting average over 10 seasons, all with the Lions. He appeared in all 144 regular-season games in 2011, batting .297 with 16 home runs and 100 RBIs.
One Pacific Rim, major league scout said Nakajima’s chances of signing with the Yankees were likely hurt by the dismal season that Minnesota Twins infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka had in 2011.