A report by the Seattle Times and a social media post from Hisashi Iwakuma seem to indicate that Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto wants the veteran starting pitcher back for the 2018 MLB season. Iwakuma stated that he has received an offer from the team, but he didn’t go into great detail about what that would entail. This is where the debate has begun among Mariners fans.

During the 2017 season, Hisashi Iwakuma made only six starts for the Seattle Mariners, with his year cut short due to shoulder inflammation. He posted a 4.35 ERA in those starts, which wasn’t spectacular, but it could have been good enough to keep him in the starting rotation.

Despite trying to battle back from the disabled list throughout the season, it just didn’t happen, creating rumors that Iwakuma might even retire.

Iwakuma contract options

If Iwakuma had been able to pitch 162 innings last year, he would have earned $15 million in salary for the 2018 MLB season. Since he failed to reach that number, the Mariners were about to buy out his contract for $1 million. It was an easy decision, especially since it is unclear how well he can pitch after going through a shoulder surgery. Iwakuma is now officially a free agent who can sign with any team he wants.

It’s possible that the Mariners and Dipoto offered Iwakuma a contract heavy with incentives. It would mean that he receives a flat salary that is considered relatively low, but that he would receive increases on that salary based on innings or his overall performance throughout the season.

It would give Iwakuma a shot at returning to the franchise, but also give the team a bit of a discount for his services.

Busy offseason for the Mariners

Jerry Dipoto has already been busy this offseason, pulling off several trades, including one where he acquired first baseman Ryon Healy from the Oakland Athletics. This could be the answer for the Mariners when it comes to first base next season, even if Healy is considered a below-the-radar type of player.

If he is indeed the planned first baseman, it also gives the team more money to spend on pitching.

The Mariners have also been linked to free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana, who could provide the team extra depth and pop in the lineup. That was before the Mariners acquired Healy, though, so there might not be much interest left on that front. For fans of the team, the hope is that the Mariners will target more pitching, as it proved to be one of the weaknesses of the franchise in 2017.