Best 2006 Free Agent Signings – Akinori Iwamura

Akinori Iwamura – Tampa Bay Rays




3 Years, $7.7 Million + $4.55 Million Negotiation rights

Total: $12.25 Million, 3 years ($4.08 million per season)




I’ve already commented on Iwamura, which can be read at: Akinori Iwamura

A Quick cut & paste of a few tidbits;

• Has a career slugging percentage over .500
• Can play 2nd, SS, or 3rd
• 30+ HR in each of the last three seasons
• 27 Years old
As with any Japanese player, the jury is out on his performance.

So, why do I like this deal?


Well, I have two main reasons. One is the relatively reasonable risk/reward factor of this deal, and even though he is technically a “negotiation right” player, not a FA, a good deal is still a good deal. At a little over $4 million per season, the Rays could have an offensive dynamo on their hands. Or they could have another Kaz Matsui. But, unlike Kaz, they won’t be paying out $27 million for three years (salary + negotiation rights). Iwamura can reportedly play 2nd, SS, and 3rd, so this will give the Rays flexibility in case of poor performance or an injury. To me, this is one of the more enticing aspects of Akinori’s game, as Japanese league players are always fundamental sound.


The second reason why I like this deal is the message that it sends to fans in Tampa, teams in Japan and baseball as a whole. We’ve seen the Rays throw cash at washed up free agents in the past years (Tino, etc). But this time they’re actively taking a risk to make the club better, this season and beyond. With all of the Rays young talent, the team should develop in 2007 and even have a shot at competing for a playoff spot in 2008.


But the main question is where is he going to play? I don’t have the answer, and apparently neither do the Rays:

VP Players Operations, Andrew Friedman

“I would not put a specific position on him at this time,” he said. “All we’ve done is add flexibility on the roster. We’ve added depth. That’s a good thing.””




With the added option of trading a middle infielder down the line, this is a reasonable—in today’s market– risk/reward deal that also creates flexibility. Good job Rays!



Akinori Iwamura

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2 replies on “Best 2006 Free Agent Signings – Akinori Iwamura”
  1. says: Early

    I agree with your assessment that the Devil Rays are taking a step in the right direction with a pick-up like this. This is not a prospect or a washed-up star, he is going to step right into the lineup and contribute. Tampa has had their fair share of stars – Boggs, McGriff, Vaughn, Castilla, Canseco but noone has ever propelled them over 75 wins. They still have along ways to go in a tough division and with other young teams in the AL that are a year of two ahead of them in development that have already had ‘Great Success!’

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