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'Kuma Caps Auspicious Offseason

Hisashi Iwakuma (LiAnna Davis, wikimedia commons)
The Mariners re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma last Friday in a surprise turn of events. I had counted on the Mariners making a smattering of minor moves that I could post about at my leisure over break, but Jerry Dipoto's wheelings and dealing know no bounds.

Also, to simply say Iwakuma was retained understates the drama that played out. Iwakuma had an agreement with the Dodgers but they wanted to renegotiate based on some things that popped up in a physical they administered. It is rare for deals to fall through because of a physical, and even more rare to watch one disintegrate and have another team so swiftly jump in and take advantage. It appears that 'Kuma's deal with the Mariners took less than 24 hours to come together.

Physicals and medical records are hardly a reasonable blog topic. I am far from a trained medical professional, and there is the whole medical privacy thing that means I have not seen anything of Iwakuma's anyway. Still, it is hard to imagine whatever the Dodgers found to be all that concerning. Iwakuma turns 35 years old early in the 2016 season. The odds of some wear and tear on 'Kuma's arm are extremely high, and it is not as if his arm needs to hold up for another decade. It needed to last three seasons, if the reported deal with Dodgers was accurate. What was so dangerous that the Dodgers, the team spending more money than any other in baseball, worried about their investment?

Also, it seems reasonable that Iwakuma wanted to stay in Seattle. Why would he backpedal out of the Dodgers deal so quickly and sign an incentive-laden deal with the Mariners? He did not even shop around as was his right as a free agent. All I am saying is that I am not convinced whatever concerns popped up in Iwakuma's physical were at the heart of his deal with LA falling apart. The Dodgers might have simply been doing their due diligence and accidentally triggered some soul-searching for Iwakuma.

Bottom line, Hisashi Iwakuma is back with the Mariners, and seems legitimately excited to return. His dabbling with the Dodgers turned out to be a blessing in disguise too.

Jerry Dipoto said that the Mariners had to extend their budget to re-sign Iwakuma, though he also mentioned that it took "less than five minutes" to get authorization. It is clear that ownership thinks highly of Iwakuma, as they should. Still, the reason that the Mariners did not have budget room was because Dipoto had moved on from Iwakuma. In particular, the addition of Wade Miley cost money.

The Mariners baked their cake and ate it too by happenstance. They nabbed a replacement for Hisashi Iwakuma and then got Iwakuma back anyway. This would not have happened if they had signed Iwakuma in the first place, because then there would not have been an authorization to add payroll. Ultimately, this is the real blessing of how the Iwakuma situation played out.

Dipoto and the Mariners already had a solid offseason before signing Iwakuma. Now they have had a very good offseason, if not a great one. The metamorphosis of the 40-man roster is largely done, which is not to say that moves are over and done with, but the overall shape and feel is in place with capable players in each spot.

The 2016 Mariners have the look of a contender, especially with Iwakuma back in the fold. Jerry Dipoto stuffed many stockings with all his moves, and thankfully he doled out very little coal.