Akinori Iwamura to the Pirates for Jesse Chavez

UPDATE 10:55 PM: Final update on this post. A few comments from Neal Huntington in the Post-Gazette on the trade. Some notable comments include Iwamura batting second behind McCutchen, the Pirates are open to an extension, and they’d be fine with a Ronny Cedeno/Iwamura middle infield.
Also, some comments from Iwamura on the trade in the PBC Blog. Most notable are the comments that he is interested in talking a long term deal, and that his knee hasn’t healed, but will be 100 percent by next season.

UPDATE 7:10 PM: According to Dejan Kovacevic, the deal is official, and is just an Iwamura for Chavez swap, with no other players or money changing hands. The Pirates also exercised the 2010 option for Iwamura. I’ll have more thoughts in a later post.

UPDATE 7:05 PM: The 2010 40-man roster/payroll projection is updated, along with the Payroll Commitments Chart and the Neal Huntington Trade History page. Keep in mind that this deal won’t be official until after the World Series is complete. Also, there are conflicting reports on Iwamura’s 2010 salary. The base option is for $4.25 M, although several Tampa Bay outlets are reporting that the option is worth more. Iwamura has incentives that would raise the option as high as $5.25 M based on plate appearances from 2007-2009. My guess is that the higher numbers from the Tampa Bay media incorporate those incentives.

UPDATE 6:43 PM: Dejan Kovacevic is suggesting on Twitter that the Pirates could receive another player in the Iwamura deal. That would make sense, as the scale is tipped more in favor of the Rays in a Chavez for Iwamura swap.
Also, Iwamura would have four years of service time after the 2010 season. You may notice everyone saying he is eligible for free agency after the 2010 season. You may wonder why he wouldn’t have two years of arbitration remaining after the 2010 season. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Iwamura’s deal requires his team to sign him to a deal by the end of the contract, or release him, granting him free agency. This is why the Pirates won’t have him under control for three years. Of course, that doesn’t rule out a contract extension.

UPDATE 5:32 PM: Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Pirates would send Jesse Chavez to the Rays. Not sure how I feel about that, since Iwamura is only under contract for one year, and Chavez was a reliable bullpen arm who is under control for five more years. Plus, Chavez is great against left handers. Of course, bullpen arms are the easiest to replace, and Chavez is a perfect example of that. This time last year no one expected what we saw from him in 2009. Who’s to say that we don’t have one or two Jesse Chavez relievers in the system right now for the 2010 season?
Buster Olney also reports this, according to MLBTR. I wonder if the Pirates will try to extend Iwamura beyond the 2010 season. That would make a lot of sense.

UPDATE 4:58 PM: A lot of questions going around asking who people would prefer to give up. Personally I am predicting this will be an inverse of the Eric Hinske to the Yankees deal, with an A-ball pitcher like Casey Erickson and a marginal A-ball position player like Eric Fryer going to the Rays. In fact, Erickson would be perfect to part with, since he’s Rule 5 eligible, and the Pirates probably don’t have room for him on the 40-man.
A few Robinzon Diaz comments have floated around on Twitter. I wouldn’t like the idea of trading Robinzon Diaz, as he was working at several positions at AAA this year, and could be valuable as a super utility player and a third catcher. Plus, if (or when) Ryan Doumit goes down, who backs up Jason Jaramillo?

UPDATE 4:54 PM: The two teams can agree to a deal tonight, but the deal can’t be completed until after the World Series. The Rays have until one day after the completion of the World Series to pick up Iwamura’s option, which means we will likely see his option exercised before the deal is completed.

UPDATE 4:41 PM: Topkin says that the Rays may pay money to upgrade the return, which they did in the Aubrey Huff deal. That wouldn’t make sense for the Pirates, as they have money to spend, and they can’t afford to be giving away any more talent than necessary, especially for a guy under contract for one year. Topkin also says that an official announcement won’t come until tonight, when it will be Wednesday morning in Japan, at which point the Rays can talk to Iwamura.
Jennifer Langosch reports that the Rays are in the market for young catchers and young arms, but that the Pirates aren’t expected to deal any established players. She says that takes Matt Capps out of the equation. I’d also assume that takes Jason Jaramillo and Robinzon Diaz are out of the question.

The Rays are expected to deal Akinori Iwamura today, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Roger Mooney of the Bradenton Herland believes Iwamura is headed to a National League club as a part of a sign and trade deal. So could that club be the Pirates?

Dejan Kovacevic recently had the following tweet:
Hearing #Pirates part of trade talks with #Rays Akinori Iwamura.
As I typed that out, an update was posted from Marc Topkin, stating that the Pirates are the team the Rays are talking to. So it sounds like Iwamura could be our second baseman in 2010.
Iwamura has a $4.85 M option for the 2010 season, with a $550 K buyout. By trading him, the Rays save the $550 K buyout price, and open up second base for Ben Zobrist in 2010. Iwamura turns 31 years old in February, and is under contract for one more season. He has played three seasons in the majors, with a .281/.354/.393 line, including a .290/.355/.390 line this past season with the Rays in 231 at-bats (he went down for the season in May with a partially-torn ACL).
The addition of Iwamura would help to shore up the second base position for the Pirates, as Delwyn Young is the only candidate at the moment to start in 2010. Iwamura would not only be of help at the plate, but he would also be an asset on the field. In 2008, Iwamura ranked seventh in the majors in UZR amongst qualified second baseman. In his three seasons he has a 1.0 UZR/150 at second base. By comparison, Delwyn Young had a -13.6 UZR/150 in his time at second base with th

e Pirates last year.

I’ll keep this post updated as more information becomes available.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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