A’s, Iwakuma fail to reach deal

Oakland’s unsuccessful attempts at luring in available players has officially extended to the international realm.

Having already watched targets Lance Berkman and Adam Dunn head elsewhere, not to mention Adrian Beltre spurn a hefty offer to come to Oakland for a second straight year, the A”s on Monday announced that they did not reach a deal with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who will return to the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League.

Thus, Oakland will get back its $19.1 million posting fee, which gave the club a 30-day negotiating period with the hurler. The result of Monday’s deadline day, which came in the midst of the annual Winter Meetings, was more or less expected. Talks between the two sides stalled midway through the process by way of large financial differences, and they never appeared to amount to anything close to a done deal.

“We would like to express our appreciation to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for the opportunity to negotiate with Mr. Iwakuma, and we regret that an agreement could not be reached by today’s deadline,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said in a statement. “In this instance, the player was in a unique situation, being only one year away from free agency, and we fully respect and understand his position.”

Iwakuma and his agent, Don Nomura, were reportedly asking for a contract that would average $12 million per season over three years — numbers that reflect the earnings of fellow Japanese pitchers Hiroki Kuroda (three years, $35.3 million) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (six years, $52 million).

However, the A’s were said to have offered $15.25 million over four years — factoring in the posting fee cost — as a “take it or leave it” approach. By leaving it, Iwakuma will stay in Japan and become a free agent at the end of the 2011 season.

Now, the A’s could potentially reach out to the open market for a fifth starter, likely of the middle-aged veteran type. They also already have several in-house candidates for the final rotation spot, including Tyson Ross, Josh Outman and Bobby Cramer.

The club is also presumably primed to use its remaining funds to bring in free agents in an ongoing effort to bolster the offense. With Beltre out of the picture, the A’s are destined to turn their focus toward other available hitters — a group that could potentially include Hideki Matsui, Carlos Pena, Derrek Lee and Nick Johnson.


any chance the A’s sign Carl Pavano??

I’m honestly glad the A’s didn’t pay him what he was asking. First, I’m not sure what all the A’s starters make, but it’s not near what he was asking, by the sounds of things (just think – does a guy with no MLB experience, likely the #5 starter, deserve more than your big 4 – I don’t think so – what message does that send to the rest of your pitchers – I’d be mad, and it wouldn’t make me want to sign a long-term deal with the A’s – if I were Brett/Trevor/Gio/Dallas).

On the whole ‘unproven’ thing; a number of the Japanese players have completely flopped, or had a couple good years (I’d say Ichiro, H. Matsui, and if you want to go that far back, Nomo and Kaz Sasaki – I think I spelled that wrong – the former Mariner closer). Shingo Takatsu had a short run where he was effective, Tad Iguchi and Kaz Matsui were okay for a short time, Irabu was a total bust, and then there’s Dice-K – he’s not earning his paycheque.

I’d much rather the A’s use that money, and try and secure a big name bat or two. The pitching will be fine; that’s not what the need is.

In the end though, I don’t mind most of the moves that have been made this offseason.

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