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Report: Rays close to trading Akinori Iwamura

Nov 3, 2009, 2:51 PM EDT

Mark Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays “are on the verge of completing a trade” for Akinori Iwamura.
Recent speculation had the Dodgers and Cubs interested in Iwamura, but Topkin writes that “an unexpected team” would be the destination. Tampa Bay holds a $4.85 million option or $550,000 buyout on Iwamura for 2010 and apparently has no plans to bring him back with Ben Zobrist and prospect Sean Rodriguez available to play second base.
Iwamura missed three months with a torn ACL in his left knee, which is a big concern for a player whose game is based largely on speed. Not only is his range at second base now in question, 12 percent of Iwamura’s career hits haven’t left the infield.
However, if most of his speed and mobility return following the injury Iwamura is a solid all-around player who offers an average glove at second or third base with a career .281/.354/.393 mark at the plate. A left-handed hitter with good plate discipline and modest power, he has on-base percentages of .359, .349, and .355 in three seasons since coming over from Japan while actually performing better against southpaws.
Solid defense, good speed, and a .350 OBP would be nice fit for any number of teams, particularly if the Rays are primarily looking to avoid paying the $550,000 buyout. Tampa Bay has until one day after the World Series to make a decision on Iwamura’s option, so a trade could happen quickly.
UPDATE: Topkin reports that the mystery is … the Pirates. We’ll have a full analysis once the details are announced, but for now Pittsburgh strikes me as an odd fit to say the least.

  1. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    I really hope it’s the Twins.
    I wanted them to pounce on Iwamura this offseason if he got released, but this would work too. Beat everyone to the punch and solidify at least one infield spot.
    He can start the year at 3B if Danny Valencia and/or Luke Hughes aren’t ready to take the job and shift to 2B later on down the line, hopefully removing Nick Punto from a full-time starting gig in the process.

  2. Mike - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:19 PM

    To clear room on the 40-man roster, the Twins outrighted infielder Brian Buscher to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday.
    Coincidence…I hope not!

  3. Dan - Nov 3, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    Can teams announce trades before the WS is over?

  4. Mo Green - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    If it is indeed Pittsburgh, this would appear to be very bad news for young Delwyn Young.

  5. Cheap Seat Chronicles - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:55 PM

    If it is Pittsburgh…what sense does that make?!
    Why bring on Iwamura’s salary when he definitely won’t be around if/when the team is ready to compete again?!
    Unless they intend to move him again this offseason?!

  6. Mo Green - Nov 3, 2009 at 4:58 PM

    There was also talk of moving Andy LaRoche to 2B to make way at 3B for Pedro Alvarez. Iwamura played 3B for all of 2007, he can still probably play a decent 2B, but he doesn’t really fit in anywhere else, he can’t play SS. Unless there’s a corresponding move yet to be rumored, this is just bizarre if true.

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