SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners didn’t wait long to go after Hisashi Iwakuma after his agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers was never finalized.
The Mariners re-signed Iwakuma late Thursday night, locking up the right-hander for 2016 with options for the 2017 and 2018 seasons — financial terms were not announced. 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 Iwakuma was a priority for Seattle entering the offseason. But reports surfaced earlier this month that Iwakuma and the Dodgers had agreed to a contract, leading the Mariners to trade for left-handed starter Wade Miley from Boston.
But Iwakuma’s deal with the Dodgers was never finalized and the 34-year-old 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 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.