Report: Dodgers Close to Signing Hisashi Iwakuma

As we’ve been saying all along — and on which there is a post scheduled for tomorrow morning which probably won’t be changed — we knew that as disappointing as the post-Zack Greinke era was, it wouldn’t last long. Had to sign someone. According to Jim Bowden, there is someone:

Mega-caveat: No one else is reporting this right now, and this source hasn’t always been right, and…


So, yeah. But let’s assume there’s smoke here, even though we don’t know the dollars or years. So, there’s that. Hisashi Iwakuma turns 35 in April, and in four seasons with the Mariners he’s been quite good: 3.17 ERA, 3.62 FIP. He has a roughly league-average strikeout rate, but he’s elite at limiting walks (127 in 653 career innings). He even threw a no-hitter in August, and finished third in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting. Steamer likes him for a three-win season, assuming health. He’s really pretty good.

On the other hand, he had a ton of shoulder woes during his time in Japan (he pitched in only 22 games in his age 25-26 seasons), and he missed nearly three months in 2015 with a strained lat. Also, the Mariners gave him a qualifying offer, which he declined, so the Dodgers would have to give up their first-round pick (23rd overall) and their top pick would instead be the Greinke compensation pick, which would be roughly 30th. That’s a downgrade, though I’m not sure it’s enough of one to really care about, particularly since they’ll also gain one for losing Howie Kendrick, too, and another for Kyle Funkhouser.

The biggest question, other than the terms (FanGraphs readers guessed something like 3/$42, which sounds fine), is what he means. If he’s Greinke’s replacement, meant to slot in behind Clayton Kershaw — as basically every fan will immediately assume — that’s not good enough. If he’s, say, the third-best starter behind Kershaw and Johnny Cueto (or someone), that look a lot better. If he’s your fourth-best starter, that’s just stellar; maybe they plan to move Alex Wood. Who knows. (And if this means that Hyun-jin Ryu‘s shoulder really is made of shredded cabbage, well, uh-oh.)

All of which is to say: This may or may not be happening, and it may or may not be a good idea, and it may or may not work out for this team. Giving up picks and dollars for older pitchers with a lot of mileage doesn’t seem great. Signing a guy who’s been better than average does seem like someone you want. As with everything else, we need to see how the end game plays out.

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