Iwase to Remain with Chunichi
Nothing official has been announced, but it looks like Chunichi Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase will decline to file for free agency and remain the team. Sanspo, Nikkan Sports, Sponichi and several others are all running a nearly identical report in which Iwase comments, “It’s not decided when we’ll talk to the team, but inside there’s practical part of me”.
I wonder if his confidence took a hit after his poor performance in the Olympics. Or maybe he realizes that he’s coming off a sub-par season (by his standards) and doesn’t like what the market will bear for him. Iwase earned a little over $4.3M in 2008, so a move to MLB wouldn’t necessarily have gotten him a big raise. I’d also suggest that Iwase is more valuable to Chunichi than any other team, as the team lost Fukudome last year and is likely to lose Kenshin Kawakami. Keeping Iwase also allows Kazuki Yoshimi to move into the starting rotation full time.
Nothing is official until a contract is signed, but Chunichi is reportedly preparing a multi-year deal for their star closer. Last year they let him choose between a 1-year and 4-year contracts, so it’ll be interesting to see if they show the same flexibility this time around.