In the wake of missing out on Zack Greinke, the Los Angeles Dodgers filled the hole in their rotation by signing Hisashi Iwakuma to a three-year, $45 million deal. It was a pricey dive into the second tier of the pitching market, but a competitive team like the Dodgers isn’t going to want to be left having to push for a trade or one of the slightly better pitchers late in the offseason.
Except now they will.
After Iwakuma’s physical reportedly scuttled that deal, the Mariners announced that they’ve brought back Iwakuma on a one-year deal with vesting options for 2017 and 2018 – a contract structure that makes sense, based on the deal he was trying to get from the Dodgers and whatever injury concerns popped up. The Mariners have had an extraordinarily busy offseason, and, though most of it seems like shuffling around parts rather than making significant upgrades, they could prove to be yet another competitive team in the AL West, which already features the underrated A’s, the excellent Astros, the very good Angels, and the very good Rangers. That’s a really tough division.
From here, where do the Dodgers go? It’s possible they’ll just spend on a different free agent pitcher, like Mike Leake or Scott Kazmir or Wei-Yin Chen or Ian Kennedy or Yovani Gallardo (there are still so many options). It’s also possible they’ll put all their young chips in and pull off a trade for Jose Fernandez, or another young starter. There was a Jake Odorizzi rumor yesterday.
At present, the Dodgers’ rotation is Clayton Kershaw and a bunch of questions – Alex Wood was disappointing after coming over from the Braves, Hyun-Jin Ryu is coming back from a shoulder injury, Brandon McCarthy is coming back from Tommy John, Brett Anderson had his first healthy season in a half decade in 2015, and the legitimacy of Mike Bolsinger is still a question.
It seems pretty unlikely that the Dodgers will go in 2016 with that rotation, but we’ll see.