The Dodgers start the winter meetings this coming week in Nashville with a gaping hole in their starting rotation, thanks to Zack Greinke signing with Arizona. But the Dodgers are trying to remedy that, with free agent right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma the latest target, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Iwakuma turns 35 in April, so he presumably wouldn't require the long-term commitment of younger pitchers like Johnny Cueto, or the five-year deal signed by Jeff Samardzija with San Francisco earlier on Saturday. The Giants, even after agreeing to terms with Samardzija, are also interested in Iwakuma, as are the Mariners, per Rosenthal.
The Dodgers, as you might imagine, are linked to just about every available starting pitcher on the market, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports specifically mentioning Iwakuma, Cueto, Mike Leake, Kenta Maeda, and of course "maybe more."
Iwakuma was 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA and 3.74 FIP in 20 starts with Seattle in 2015, with 111 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 129⅔ innings, including pitching a no-hitter on Aug. 12 against the Orioles. He missed seven weeks on the disabled list with a right lat strain from the end of April until the first week of July.
From Aug. 1 through the end of the season, Iwakuma was 7-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 12 starts, with 74 strikeouts and 13 walks in 82 innings.
He also missed the first month of the season in 2014 with a sprained right middle finger.
Iwakuma finished third in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2013, and over the last three seasons has averaged 27 starts, 176 innings, 150 strikeouts and a 3.17 ERA, a 117 ERA+. Among the 54 pitchers with at least 500 innings from 2013-2015, Iwakuma ranked 10th in ERA, 21st in FIP (3.45) and 11th in xFIP (3.17).
Iwakuma during that span also ranked 10th in K-BB% (17.5 percent), just below ninth-place Greinke (17.9 percent). He has struck out between 21.3 percent and 21.7 percent of his batters faced in each of his three full seasons as a starter.
Seattle made Iwakuma a qualifying offer, so signing him would cost the Dodgers their first-round pick, currently with the other signings at No. 23 overall in the 2016 draft. The Mariners would receive a compensatory pick in between the first and second rounds should he sign elsewhere.
An ancillary benefit of Iwakuma signing would be adding the "Kuma Bear" hats to the gift shop.