LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who was aiming to move to the major leagues via the posting system, has decided to return to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles without waiting until Tuesday’s deadline to make up his mind, baseball sources said Sunday.
The move will send the pitcher back to a revamped Eagles squad that recently added former major leaguers Kazuo Matsui and Akinori Iwamura.
The Athletics had until Tuesday, 2 p.m. Japan time, to close the deal but the Japanese ace appears to have lost his motivation to play for the team after questioning its seriousness to sign him. Iwakuma is scheduled to give a press conference on Wednesday.
Oakland put a four-year, $15.25 million offer on the table for Iwakuma on Nov. 19 and basically told him to take it or leave it.
Iwakuma’s camp believed that the terms were below the pitcher’s worth and showed a lack of sincerity, leading to a breakdown in talks.
The sides remained in contact and Oakland had said they would consider shortening the number of years in the contract but the bad blood had already been created. Iwakuma questioned Oakland’s initial motive and rejected the move.
Oakland will get back the $19.1 million it put up to win the 30-day exclusive negotiating rights for the 29-year-old Iwakuma, the Pacific League MVP and the Sawamura Award winner in 2008.
Athletics general manager Billy Beane said that the club is in contact with Iwakuma but he could make no further comment until after Tuesday’s deadline.
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