Seattle Mariners

Mariners extend qualifying offer to Hisashi Iwakuma

Free-agent pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma won’t be leaving the Mariners without a fight.

The club, as expected, tendered a qualifying offer to Iwakuma before Friday’s deadline. The move ensures that the Mariners will receive a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere.

General manager Jerry Dipoto has consistently cited efforts to retain Iwakuma as an offseason priority. Iwakuma has expressed a strong interest in remaining with the Mariners.

All qualifying offers are one-year contracts for $15.8 million, which is the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players. Iwakuma has until 2 p.m. on Nov. 13 to accept or reject the offer.

Iwakuma, a right-hander, is expected to reject it — no player has ever accepted a qualifying offer. But players who reject a qualifying offer are permitted to negotiate with their former clubs.

The Mariners did not make qualifying offers to their two other free agents: outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and lefty reliever Joe Beimel. That means they will receive no compensation if those players sign elsewhere.

Iwakuma was one of 20 players who received qualifying offers, including Chicago Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler, who had been linked to the Mariners as a possible acquisition target.

In contrast, Washington did not make an offer to outfielder Denard Span, who also has been linked to the Mariners.

Iwakuma, 34, missed 11 weeks last season because of a strained back muscle, but finished 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts. He is 47-25 with a 3.17 ERA in four seasons since arriving from Japan.

If Iwakuma signs elsewhere, the Mariners would receive a supplemental draft pick next June between the first and second rounds. Any other club signing Iwakuma would lose its first unprotected draft pick.

Iwakuma made $7 million last season and, according to MLB estimates, is in line for a multiyear deal that should approach $14 million in annual salary.

ROBERTSON CLAIMED

Add light-hitting Dan Robertson, a former Oregon State standout, to the Mariners’ outfield picture.

The Mariners acquired Robertson, 28, in a waiver claim Friday from the Los Angeles Angels. He batted .280 last season in 37 big-league games while serving primarily as a defensive replacement.

In a corresponding move, the Mariners sent right-handed reliever JC Ramirez to Triple-A Tacoma on an outright assignment.

This marks the second straight offseason in which Dipoto made a move to obtain Robertson. Dipoto was the Angels’ general manager when they acquired him from Texas in a Nov. 20, 2014, trade.

Robertson is an eight-year pro who also batted .265 last season in 60 games at Triple-A Salt Lake. He has a .299/.377/.405 slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) in 793 minor-league games.

KARNS: NO ISSUES

Newly acquired pitcher Nathan Karns — he prefers Nathan to Nate — dismisses any concerns attached to the forearm soreness that ended his season at Tampa Bay after a Sept. 8 start.

“I made a statement when they declared they were going to shut me down that if it was a different part of the year, and the circumstances were different, most likely I’m still pitching,” Karns said.

“I’m fully confident that I’ll be ready to go in spring training.”

The Mariners acquired Karns, a right-hander, along with minor-league outfielder Boog Powell and lefty reliever C.J. Riefenhauser, on Thursday from the Rays for shortstop Brad Miller, first baseman Logan Morrison and reliever Danny Farquhar.

“It caught me off-guard,” said Karns, who was 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 26 starts last season as a rookie. “I had no idea that anything like this was brewing.”

Karns got another surprise when Dipoto virtually promised him a spot in the rotation.

“This is the first time in my career where I’ve been told I’m going to be in a rotation prior to (the start of) spring training,” he said. “I’m going to do my best to make sure I’m prepared for it.”

WOODWARD DEPARTING

First-base coach Chris Woodward won’t return for a third season on the big-league staff. He informed the Mariners that he prefers to work nearer to his family in Florida.

Woodward’s decision leaves hitting coach Edgar Martinez as the only returning member from the staff that served under former manager Lloyd McClendon.

After concluding a 18-year professional career in 2012, Woodward served in 2013 as the Mariners’ minor-league infield coordinator. He joined the big-league staff in 2014.

ROSTER COUNTS

The Mariners, after their flurry of moves, have 37 players on their 40-man roster and gained some personnel flexibility. All four new players have options remaining.

Powell is not even on the roster yet, but he should be added later in the month because, if left unprotected, he will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. If added, he will have three options remaining.

Karns and Riefenhauser each have one option remaining. Robertson has two options remaining.

TUNE IN

First baseman D.J. Peterson and lefty reliever David Rollins will be part of the West team on Saturday in the Arizona Fall League’s all-star game at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

The game can be seen on MLB Network at 5 p.m.

Peterson, 23, was the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2013 and is playing in the Fall Stars Game for the second straight year. He is trying to put together a strong finish after a generally disappointing season.

After entering the season ranked No. 2 in the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects, he batted .223 in 93 games at Double-A Jackson with seven homers and 44 RBIs.

The Mariners acquired Rollins, 25, from Houston in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, but he missed the season’s first 80 games while serving a suspension after failing a drug test.

Rollins was 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 20 big-league games after returning from his suspension.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

@TNT_Mariners

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