SEATTLE (AP) — The Mariners didn't wait long to bring back Hisashi Iwakuma after his agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers failed to get finalized.
Iwakuma agreed to a $12 million, one-year contract with Seattle late Thursday night, a deal that includes options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons and performance bonuses that could raise the value to $40.75 million over three years if he pitches at least 190 innings per season. The team posted a video on Twitter of general manager Jerry Dipoto announcing the signing at the club's holiday party.
Finding a way to re-sign the right-hander, who turns 35 in April, was a priority for Seattle entering the offseason. There were several reports Dec. 7 of a $45 million, three-year agreement between Iwakuma and the Dodgers, pending a physical, and the Mariners then acquired left-handed starter Wade Miley from Boston.
Japan's Jiji Press reported Thursday the Dodgers were not satisfied with the physical, and Iwakuma was suddenly available again.
"We said from the start that Kuma was a priority for us," Dipoto said in a statement. "Obviously, the developments from the last few days allowed us to get back in the game. It's a credit to our ownership; to Howard Lincoln, to Kevin Mather, to our entire ownership group that we were able to get aggressive and find a way to bring Kuma back to the Mariners. We're all thrilled. This is a big move for us."
Iwakuma gets a $1 million signing bonus payable through December 2017 and a $10 million salary this year.
Seattle has $10 million options for 2017 and 2018, and Iwakuma would get a $1 million buyout if either option is declined. The 2017 option would become guaranteed at $14 million if he pitches 162 innings next year, and the 2018 option would become guaranteed at $15 million if he pitches 162 innings in 2017 or 324 combined in 2016 and '17.
In each season, he can earn $500,000 each for 150 innings pitched and each additional 10 through 190. He receives a full no-trade provision, eight business class plane tickets annually between Japan and the U.S. and a trainer with a $100,000 salary. When the contract ends, he will become a free agent again.
Iwakuma was 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts last season for the Mariners, including the first no-hitter of his career in August against Baltimore, and was 4-2 with a 2.17 ERA over his final seven starts. He has pitched his entire career in the majors with Seattle, going 47-25 with a 3.17 ERA in 111 games.
Iwakuma was an All-Star in 2013 and became the second Japanese-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter, joining Hideo Nomo. Since being moved into Seattle's rotation on July 2, 2012, Iwakuma has the fourth-best ERA in the American League at 3.09. When healthy, he's been a stabilizing part of Seattle's rotation, often slotting behind ace Felix Hernandez.
Iwakuma's return all but sets Seattle's rotation going into spring training. Iwakuma and Hernandez will be the anchors along with the additions of Miley and Nathan Karns and the return of young standout Taijuan Walker.
"We feel like this really puts a finishing touch on what we think has been a very productive offseason," Dipoto said.