Hisashi Iwakuma has been one of the most productive starting pitchers in MLB not only this season, but since his arrival to the league. While the Seattle Mariners had difficulty scoring runs, their pitching staff was expected to keep hitters silenced at the plate. Iwakuma has been no less than brilliant since his MLB debut in 2012.
Iwakuma was first posted for a MLB team to bid on him in 2010. He was highly regarded and received a four-year contract from the Oakland Athletics worth over $15 million. Even with the contract he would receive, he opted to remain in his native country, where he would continue to play for another season.
It was after the season when he accepted a one-year deal to play for the Mariners for significantly less, with the deciding factors being that Ichiro Suzuki played there and he enjoyed the city of Seattle. The contract was certainly in favor of the organization, but the next contract he received was even more team-friendly.
For how much the Mariners gave him, they should give him a gift for the value they received on the field over the past three seasons. He has quietly emerged as one of, if not the best complementary arms to the ace of any rotation in baseball, while his contract is worth the production of a middle reliever.
The Mariners are lucky to have locked up Ichiro when they did, as it continues to pay off dividends for future players arriving, specifically from the Asian market.