Free agent right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma signed an incentive-laced, one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, a year after his attempted move to the majors through the posting system ended in failure.
According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the 30-year-old Iwakuma will receive a base salary of $1.5 million plus performance bonuses that will make the deal worth well over $3.9 million, or 300 million yen -- the amount he made with the Rakuten Eagles last season.
Iwakuma, who won the Pacific League MVP and the Sawamura Award after winning 21 games in 2008, was put up for bidding last offseason. The Oakland Athletics won his negotiating rights but the two parties could not come to terms during the exclusive 30-day talking period.
''I'll do whatever it takes to get results over the next year,'' Iwakuma said during a conference call. ''I accept what they offered, and I'll work for everything.''
''I felt the Mariners were the team that wanted me most. I went to Seattle, and it seems like a nice place to live.''
Iwakuma, who was instrumental in Japan winning the 2009 World Baseball Classic, has a career ERA of 3.25 with a 107-60 record in 11 seasons with Rakuten and the Kintetsu Buffaloes.
Last year, he went 6-7 and was limited to 119 innings in 17 starts because of an injury to his throwing shoulder, but still sported a solid 2.42 ERA.
Iwakuma will join a rotation anchored by Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas, with several young arms competing for a fourth and fifth slot.
Iwakuma is the sixth Japanese player the Mariners have signed following Ichiro Suzuki, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Mac Suzuki and Kenji Johjima.
NEW YORK (AP)\The New York Yankees made a major push to bolster their starting rotation Friday night, agreeing to terms with right-hander Hiroki Kuroda on a $10 million, one-year contract shortly after acquiring young righty Michael Pineda from the Seattle Mariners.
A person familiar with Kurodafs signing told The Associated Press the deal is contingent on the 36-year-old former Los Angeles Dodgers starter passing a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there has not yet been an announcement. Kurodafs deal also includes performance bonuses, according to the person.
Kuroda was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA for the Dodgers this year and 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons in Los Angeles after a long career in Japan.
"So - who's pitching today?
No, I'm not pitching. Who is?
No, Who's on first.
I don't know who's on first, I just want to know the pitcher's name.
No, he's on second.
Who's on second?
Who's on first.
I don't care who's on first, what's the pitcher's name?
I keep telling you - Yu. Don't you understand anything I'm saying?
I don't know.
He's on third."
Free agent Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda has agreed to a one-year contract with the New York Yankees, the club said Thursday.
Kuroda will receive a salary of $10 million with performance incentives that kick in for pitching 200 innings, which could raise his earnings to $11 million, according to a source familiar with the deal.
In his fourth season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011, Kuroda established major league career highs in wins, earned run average, innings pitched and strikeouts, going 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA in 202 innings with 161 strikeouts over 32 starts.
''I feel happy to be a part of such a storied franchise, which is always in contention for a World Series,'' Kuroda said in a statement via the Yankees issued in English.
The Yankee front office was apparently also impressed with the fact that Kuroda has averaged just 2.10 walks per nine innings pitched in his four years, the third lowest mark by a National League pitcher with at least 500 innings pitched over the span.
Kuroda, who turns 37 on Feb. 10, has gone 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in 115 career appearances (114 starts) over four years with the Dodgers from 2008-11.
LOS ANGELES (AP)\NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers avoided a salary arbitration hearing next week, agreeing to a $19 million, two-year contract.
Tuesdayfs deal for the 23-year-old left-hander calls for a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $7.5 million this year and $11 million in 2013. It covers all but his final year of arbitration eligibility.
NEW YORK (AP) \ Gary Carter was nicknamed "Kid" for good reason.
His smile, bubbly personality and eagerness to excel on a ballfield made him a joy to watch at the plate and behind it.
Even his Hall of Fame bronze plaque at Cooperstown shows him with a toothy grin \ the Kid forever.
The star catcher, whose single for the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in baseball, died Thursday. He was 57.
Carter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May, two weeks after finishing his second season as coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Carter died at a hospice in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area.
Carter was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. His bottom-of-the-10th single in Game 6 of the 1986 Series helped the Mets mount a charge against the Boston Red Sox and eventually beat them.
With curly, blond locks flaring out from beneath his helmet, and a rigid, upright batting stance, Carter was immediately recognizable.
"His nickname 'The Kid' captured how Gary approached life," the Mets said in a statement. "He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field. His smile was infectious. ... He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did."
Carter played nearly two decades with the Mets, Montreal, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He led the Expos to their only playoff berth and was the first player enshrined in Cooperstown wearing an Expos cap.
Here's how the Nihonjin are doing at the start of spring training:
First Yu Darvish:
SURPRISE, Arizona, Feb. 21 (16:54) Kyodo
Texas Rangers rookie Yu Darvish arrived at spring training on Tuesday morning, mingled with his new teammates, and even threw a bullpen session two days before the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers.
The 25-year-old Japanese ace did not talk to the media, barely acknowledging about two dozen Japanese reporters waiting for him behind a restraining rope, as he walked into the clubhouse.
He suited up and went out for his workout in the Rangers' camp and immediately hit it off with left-hander Derek Holland, a 16-game winner for Texas in 2011.
''He wants to learn English,'' Holland was quoted as saying on the MLB website. ''He doesn't know much, but he wants to learn. He's not stand-offish. He was right there with us. He wants to fit in. It won't be hard for him.''
Darvish played catch with Holland and threw 30 pitches to catcher Luis Martinez, who was acquired by the Rangers from the San Diego Padres in the offseason, in the bullpen.
''He threw 30 pitches and threw about 10 different pitches,'' said Martinez. ''His sinker and cut fastball had good movement and downward action. His splitter was pretty good, too. There's nobody like him. He's unique.''
Taking in all the excitement can be overwhelming, but Holland said it is important that Darvish not apologize for missing his spots -- something he kept doing during the practice -- but just relax.
''That's one thing he has to learn is he doesn't have to apologize like that. There's no need for that. You're not always going to hit your spots,'' Holland said.
Dice-K on the comback trail:
In Ft. Myers, Florida, Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is on the road to recovery from ligament-transplant surgery on his right elbow last June, took part in practice drills on his first day of spring training.
''I feel both excitement and nervousness,'' said Matsuzaka. ''There is a limit to what I can do right now in terms of pitching. I will clear the hurdles in front of me. Keeping that in mind is essential.''
Ichiro hitting third:
PEORIA, Arizona, Feb. 22 (19:36) Kyodo
Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Tuesday he has decided to move Ichiro Suzuki from his traditional leadoff spot to third in the lineup.
''Ichiro Suzuki will be hitting third for us this year,'' Wedge said. ''I sat down and explained to him the whys and wherefores, and it wasn't out of left field because we had this discussions before.
''I think he was more than prepared for it and he came in here knowing that would be a serious option, and a part of him maybe expected it. But he is on board. I was very clear with him. He is very clear with me. He is ready to go.''
The Mariners scored the fewest runs in the American League the last three seasons.
''I knew from a long time ago this lineup change could happen, so I've been ready mentally,'' Suzuki said. ''I don't think you have to be this way or that way depending on where you're in the lineup. To me, it's the same between batting leadoff and third.''
And Hideki Matsui, Will DH for food:
TOKYO, Feb. 22 (18:02) Kyodo
Free agent outfielder Hideki Matsui, still unsigned for the upcoming season, left Japan for the United States on Wednesday.
Matsui will continue to wait for offers from major league clubs while training in the United States.
Not only Matsui but also other free agents such as Vladimir Guerrero and Johnny Damon remain unsigned this offseason.
Matsui hit a career-low .251 last season for the Oakland Athletics with 12 home runs and 72 RBIs.
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