New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto will be busy this offseason, and one of his first orders of business will be to try to re-sign right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma. Dipoto revealed to Jim Bowden of ESPN Radio that the team will prioritize re-signing Iwakuma as they begin to build next year's roster.
Iwakuma, 34, is the most significant Mariners' free agent this winter, with Franklin Gutierrez and Joe Beimel being the only other notable players with expiring contracts. Iwakuma has pitched to a 9-5 record and 3.67 ERA in 19 starts so far this season, pitching a no-hitter over the summer and providing a solid secondary option to ace Felix Hernandez.
Iwakuma will likely be in line for a two- or three-year deal, and will draw interest from many teams looking for a second-tier rotation option behind top options Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, David Price and Jordan Zimmermann. The Japanese righty has spent the first four seasons of his major-league career with the Mariners, notching a 47-25 record and 3.19 ERA in 110 appearances (96 starts).