If bow tie-wearing Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal is to be believed the Oakland A’s are in on the bidding for Japanese starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma.
Interesting and encouraging news if it proves to be true.
Maybe this is what the A’s meant when they said they were inspired by the Giants in a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle last week. I was clearly bitter and skeptical at the time but now I’m intrigued.
A nice Fangraphs writeup pegs Iwakuma as Japan’s second best pitcher who possibly projects as a good mid-rotation starter in the Major Leagues. Baseball Prospectus is a little more skeptical of how much success he might experience in the United States.
I may not be totally fired up about how well Iwakuma would fare if he donned green and gold next season in Oakland but I am encouraged that the A’s are showing a surprising willingness to spend some money.
Several years ago I attended FanFest at the Oakland Coliseum and general manager Billy Beane was asked during a Q&A session with fans whether the A’s would ever pursue Japanese players. Beane shot that down at the time citing the high costs involved with the bidding process.
But here we are years later and Oakland has its money on the table which is a welcome change of pace.
Combine the rumored interest in Iwakuma with the fact the the A’s have shelled out big amateur signing bonuses on the international market recently; have been aggressive suitors for the services of such free agent players as Rafael Furcal and Adrian Beltre over the past few years; and they came up second in the bidding for Aroldis Chapman last year and you can’t help but see a glimmer of hope that the organization is willing to spend money if the right opportunity comes along.
At some point those moves have to start paying off in the win column during the season.
As Rosenthal speculates, adding a starting pitcher such as Iwakuma would allow Oakland to be aggressive in using some of its pitching as trade bait in a deal for a much-needed slugger.
According to a Japanese newspaper the winning bid will be revealed toward the end of this coming week when we’ll know whether the A’s will soon be starting contract negotiations with Iwakuma.
What we know right now is that Oakland is apparently willing to open its wallet in an aggressive, creative bid to improve the team.
I don’t think I could ask for much more in the opening days of the offseason.
UPDATE: According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee and several other sources the A’s have won the bidding for for Iwakuma and can now start negotiating a contract with the Japanse pitcher.