Hisashi Iwakuma to Dodgers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma throws against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

After four years with the Seattle Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma will reportedly be suiting up for the Los Angeles Dodgers when the 2016 season starts.

ESPN's Jim Bowden first reported the news Sunday, and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman later confirmed it, adding that it's a three-year agreement for $45 million.

Iwakuma has been one of the most reliable starting pitchers in baseball when healthy:

Hisashi Iwakuma AL Ranks Since 2012
StatRank
9.3 WAR18th
3.17 ERA7th
3.25 xFIP9th
16.3 K-BB%11th
Source: FanGraphs

The one big drawback through Iwakuma's first four seasons has been his durability, though. He's hit the 180-inning mark only once, which was when he finished third in American League Cy Young voting (2013). 

Iwakuma's 129.2 innings in 2015 were the second-lowest total of his MLB career, while his 20 appearances were the fewest he has ever made. He is 34 years old, so durability could become an even bigger question going forward.

However, as former Grantland writer Michael Baumann noted after Iwakuma threw a no-hitter against Baltimore in August, the right-hander's strong second half does point to big things ahead:

Iwakuma is like the contrapositive of Clayton Kershaw. Instead of “How does anyone hit this guy?” it’s “How does everyone not hit this guy?” But they often don’t, and they certainly didn’t on Wednesday, and there are, as always, larger implications as a result. This no-hitter is further proof that, when healthy, Iwakuma is still the pitcher he was in previous years. It doesn’t prove that on its own, but he’s now gone eight or more innings and allowed one run or fewer in three of his past seven starts, and has pitched well in three of the other four. 

Because Iwakuma has never had overpowering stuff, instead relying on command and movement, he's likely to age better than many pitchers. He may not be a Cy Young contender again, but there's no reason to think he can't perform well for the life of his contract.

After the Dodgers lost out on Zack Greinke to the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was clear the team would be aggressive in trying to secure a top-tier talent to replace him. While Iwakuma is a respectable signing, the Dodgers will continue to search for another ace. 

However, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angles Times noted the older Iwakuma has thrown less innings in his career than Greinke: 

Although Shaikin did poke holes in the Dodgers' logic in reportedly signing Iwakuma through the age of 37:

Iwakuma was one of the most valuable pitchers in baseball during his four-year stint in Seattle. He's a tremendous asset, especially for a team that's seeking high-quality depth, and will prove it over the next three years.

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