With the World Series wrapping up Monday night, the offseason has officially begun as of Tuesday. The offseason is a time to think about free agency and potential trades, but it's also a time to think about which Japanese players might become available as imports. And Tuesday we heard that a pretty big name is looking to make the move overseas:
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma of Japan's Rakuten Eagles, who is aiming to sign with a major league team, entered the so-called posting system on Monday, according to a Major League Baseball official.
The 30 major league teams will have until Friday to submit sealed bids and the highest paying club will win the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with the player, upon approval of the price by his Japanese club.
Iwakuma is a 29 year old righty starting pitcher who is a ten-year veteran in Japan. Last season he posted a 2.82 ERA over 201 innings while striking out 153, and the season before that his ERA was 3.25, with 121 strikeouts in 169 innings.
Iwakuma isn't a power pitcher, as his fastball tops out in the low 90s. What makes him effective is a sharp splitter and a slider he's able to use with great success against righties. He gained fair exposure when he starred for Japan during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
How good is he? Says one AL scout:
"He would step into any rotation in the majors right now; he might be the No. 1 for half the teams in the majors...He's very impressive across the board."
By the posting system, interested Major League teams must submit bids for the rights to negotiate with Iwakuma. The team that makes the highest bid will then have a 30-day window in which it must arrive at a contract agreement. We should find out by Friday which team has won the chance to land Japan's newest available star.