Mariners extend contract of RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

SEATTLE, Wash. -- Seattle Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik announced tonight that the contract for right-handed pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma has been extended through the 2014 season with an option for the 2015 season. Per club policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed.


Iwakuma, 31, went 9-5 with 2 saves and a 3.16 ERA overall in 30 appearances, including 8-4, 2.65 ERA in 16 starts. His ERA as a starter set a rookie club record, bettering the previous mark of 2.67 by Felix Hernandez in 2005. Amongst AL pitchers with at least 100.0 IP, he ranked 7th with a 3.16 ERA (44 ER, 125.1 IP), and had the 3rd-lowest ERA by an AL starter with a minimum of 15 starts.


“Hisashi did a very nice job for us at the end of last season as a starting pitcher and we are happy that we have come to a mutual agreement. We look forward to his veteran presence and to his contributions for the next few seasons,” said Zduriencik.


Iwakuma finished the season going 6-2, 1.83 ERA (11 ER, 54.0 IP) with 43 strikeouts over his last 9 starts, posting the 2nd-best ERA by an AL starter during that stretch (Max Scherzer, DET, 1.72 ERA). Iwakuma also set the Mariners rookie record with 13 strikeouts in first MLB win as a starter July 30 vs. Toronto.


"Kuma really helped solidify our rotation in the second half of the season," said manager Eric Wedge. "He is a competitor on the mound and did a great job for us. He got stronger with each start during the season and gained confidence. I am looking forward to seeing him on the field ready to work when we start spring training in Peoria."


Prior to joining the Mariners last season, Iwakuma compiled a 107-69 record in 226 career games with Kintetsu (2001-04) and Rakuten (2005-2011) in the Japan League. He was named the 2008 Pacific League MVP and winner of the Eiji Sawamura Award (Cy Young equivalent) after going 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA (42 ER, 201.2 IP) in 28 starts.


The right-hander was a two-time selection for the Best Nine Award (2004, 2008) and was a two-time NPB All-Star (2004, 2008). Iwakuma also starred for Japan in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics (Bronze Medal) and the 2009 World Baseball Classic (Gold Medal).