Hey, we got one right! Back in Part III of the offseason plan, our team suggested bringing back Hisashi Iwakuma on a minor league deal with a spring training invite, and obviously, today we have our first official evidence that Jerry gave that a read and values our input:
#Mariners sign RHP Hisashi Iwakuma to a minor league contract. Iwakuma will receive an invitation to Seattle's Major League Spring Training camp.— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) November 27, 2017
Read: https://t.co/9tswlIRe0d pic.twitter.com/Jo4iv0OnNY
Bringing Kuma back seemed likely since the moment the M’s declined his option, and now it’s official. It’s really hard to find anything not to like about this deal. At it’s worst, Kuma never throws another pitch for the Mariners, but continues to be a delight in camp and perhaps makes Seattle a slightly more attractive landing spot for Shohei Ohtani. At it’s best, he bounces back nicely from his September shoulder surgery and provides a nice lift to the back end of the Mariners rotation.
For what it’s worth, Fangraphs has Hisashi projected to make 13 starts in 2018, and to be worth 0.6 fWAR. If the M’s were able to get that out of him in 2018, they’d need just 0.7 fWAR from whoever else they deploy in the #5 spot in Kuma’s absence to reach the holy threshold of 1.3 fWAR that was the average of #5 starts on playoff teams in both 2016 and 2017. That said, I’d likely bet on whichever fill-in the M’s go with—let’s call him Andrew Albers—netting 0.7 fWAR over Kuma being worth greather than half a win in 2018, but here’s to hoping I’m wrong!
Happy to have you back Kuma.