The movement in the second tier of starting pitchers continues, with the Dodgers finally making a move there. According to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers have agreed to a three-year deal with righty Hisashi Iwakuma, formerly of the Mariners (and whom many assumed would be returning to the Mariners).
If the deal actually does go through, the Dodgers will have, for now, replaced Zack Greinke in the rotation with Iwakuma, 34, at a much smaller cost. They will, however, lost a draft pick to sign Iwakuma.
The Dodgers should get back Hyun-Jin Ryu next year, and perhaps Brandon McCarthy shortly after the start of the season, too. They’ve got Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, and Brett Anderson (with Mike Bolsinger and some upper level pitching prospects ready), so perhaps Iwakuma will be their only significant starting pitching addition this offseason.
It would be a downgrade of the rotation overall, obviously, but Iwakuma can still be very good, and it’s possible that with health to Ryu and a big-time bullpen acquisition like Aroldis Chapman, the Dodgers’ pitching, overall, in 2016 will be comparable to 2015.
The market impact here is interesting, as it could take a huge money team out of the mix for the rest of the second tier starting pitchers (will they still go after Johnny Cueto? we shall see, and I’ll leave him in his own category), potentially depressing the rates there slightly. The Dodgers are facing a rapidly improving Diamondbacks club and a Giants team that’s going to keep adding this offseason (and the Padres and Rockies are still hopeful of competing, and, hey, you never know), so they’ll probably keep improving at the margins, too.
Taking that all together, you could have another division, besides the NL Central, with three very strong teams heading into 2016. The Wild Card race, then, could again be really top-heavy, meaning that being competitive within your own division is very important.
UPDATE for details:
Iwakuma agreement is $45M, 3 yrs with dodgers
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 7, 2015