Seattle Mariners

Mariners bring Iwakuma back on one-year contract after Dodgers deal falls apart

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma delivers to the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a baseball game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015.
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma delivers to the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a baseball game in Minneapolis, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. AP

Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma isn’t going anywhere after all.

The Mariners reached a one-year deal with Iwakuma on Thursday night just hours after his three-year agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers fell apart over health concerns.

“We said from the start that Kuma was a priority for us,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “Obviously, the developments from the last few days allowed us to get back in the game.

“It’s a credit to our ownership; to (chairman) Howard Lincoln, to (club president) Kevin Mather, to our entire ownership group that we were able to get aggressive and find a way to bring Kuma back to the Mariners.”

Iwakuma, 34, became a free agent in November after rejecting a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Mariners. He then agreed Dec. 6 to a three-year contract with Dodgers for $45 million pending a physical.

Jiji Press reported early Thursday that Los Angeles officials began backing away from the deal after viewing results of the exam. The report did not identify the nature of the medical concern.

The Dodgers initially sought to rework their contract with Iwakuma to include safeguards. When those efforts failed, the Mariners re-entered the picture.

Dipoto announced the club’s new deal with Iwakuma at a Mariners’ holiday party.

“We’re all thrilled,” Dipoto said. “This is a big move for us. We feel like this really puts a finishing touch on what we think has been a very productive offseason.”

The Mariners apparently don’t share the Dodgers’ level of concern regarding Iwakuma’s health. Their own examinations were updated at the end of the season prior to their efforts to retain him.

The value of Iwakuma’s new deal was not immediately revealed, but it is likely to be less than the Mariners’ previous offer, which was two guaranteed years with a vesting option that could have totaled about $45 million.

When Iwakuma informed the Mariners of his decision to sign with the Dodgers, Dipoto pivoted quickly to find a replacement by swinging a trade the next day, Dec. 7, to obtain left-hander Wade Miley from Boston.

The Mariners control Miley, 29, for the next two years at $15.084 million with a club option for 2018 at $12 million with a $500,000 buyout.

Iwakuma, 34, missed 11 weeks last season because of a strained back muscle but returned in early July and finished 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts. He pitched a no-hitter on Aug. 12 in a 3-0 victory over Baltimore.

The Mariners signed Iwakuma as a free agent on Jan. 5, 2012 after he spent 11 seasons in Japan’s Pacific League with Kintetsu and Rakuten. He is 47-25 with a 3.17 ERA in four big-league seasons.

MINOR SIGNINGS

The Mariners confirmed five minor-league signings Thursday that include invitations to big-league camp, including two — infielder Ed Lucas and outfielder Mike Baxter — that had previously been reported.

The other three signings are pitchers: lefty Brad Mills and right-handers Casey Coleman and Blake Parker. All five are a good bet to open next season at Triple-A Tacoma.

Mills, 30, spent most of last season at Triple-A Nashville in the Oakland system, where he was 5-12 with a 4.52 ERA in 24 starts. He spent most of the last seven years shuttling between the majors and Triple-A.

Coleman, 28, made 10 relief appearances last season at Kansas City, and allowed seven earned runs in 10 innings. He was 5-4 with a 4.92 ERA in 33 relief outings at Triple-A Omaha.

Parker, 30, made only three appearances last season at Triple-A Iowa in the Chicago Cubs’ system before undergoing elbow surgery. He is 2-3 with a 3.68 ERA in 74 big-league outings from 2012-14 with the Cubs.

Lucas, 33, batted .316 in 107 games at Triple-A Round Rock in the Texas system. Baxter, 31, batted .246 in 34 games for the Cubs and .279 with a .390 on-base percentage in 74 games at Iowa.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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