Hisashi Iwakuma is struggling so far this season, leading to questions about if he can trigger his vesting option next year with the Seattle Mariners?
Originally scheduled to go on Tuesday, Hisasha Iwakuma‘s start for the Seattle Mariners has been pushed back to Thursday. This is due to the pitcher still feeling sore, after being hit on his left knee by a hard comebacker last Wednesday.
In theory, this isn’t much of a deal. In the grand scheme of things, a delay of two days is nothing in a 162-game season.
However, it brings to mind Iwakuma’s vesting option. For anyone unfamiliar, these are optional years at the end of a player’s contract, which become guaranteed if they reach certain performance-related incentives.
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In respect of the 36-year old, the vesting option came about after the Los Angeles Dodgers backed out of a three-year deal in 2015, due to concerns about the results of his physical. He returned to Seattle with a one-year contract for the 2016 season, along with vesting options for 2017 and 2018.
This year’s option was triggered after Iwakuma surpassed 162 innings last season. Now, thoughts turn to what he must do to guarantee his contract for 2018.
As noted by Steve Adams by mlbtraderumors.com, the Tokyo, Japan native needs to reach a combined 324 innings for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Having pitched 199 innings last year, he needs another 125 this season.
Certainly, 125 sounds more than attainable, considering Iwakuma’s total from 2016. However, it’s worth noting he is only averaging just over five innings per start so far this season. (31 in six starts.)
At his current rate, the 2013 All-Star would need another 19 starts to reach the magic number of 125 innings. Again, in theory, this sounds attainable, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on his health for the duration of this campaign.
In that respect, another factor to consider is that Iwakuma needs to avoid being on the disabled list at the end of the current campaign. If he is unable to do so, the vesting option becomes void, mean he will not guarantee his $10 million deal for next season.
All things considered, what’s your take on Iwakuma? Do you believe he will do enough to guarantee his contract next year, or fall short? Further, how do you rate his overall performance so far in 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments section.