By Shannon Drayer
Just a quick heads up about an interesting deadline that the Mariners face this weekend: Due to a unique stipulation in the one-year contract that Hisashi Iwakuma signed with the Mariners last January, the team has until Saturday to sign him to a new deal or they must release him and he becomes a free agent.
If this happens, the two sides can continue to negotiate, but if he signs with the Mariners after the Saturday deadline he would not be eligible to play for the team until May 15 because of the contract stipulation. If he signs with any other team he would immediately be eligible to play.
Again, this is a very unusual situation and to my knowledge there are no other free agents this year that fall under these rules. There is mutual interest between both sides and they have been in communication, attempting to get a deal done.
4:10 update: The deadline is still interesting, we just don't know when it is. Turns out the information I received this morning was not quite complete. The deadline to sign Iwakuma otherwise lose him until May 15 is a soft deadline. Basically after midnight Friday Iwakuma can request his release at any time. At that point any team can sign him and the Mariners would not be eligible to play him until May 15. So after midnight Iwakuma basically sets the deadline. I do not expect it to come to this however as both sides are still negotiating and seem to want to get a deal done. Stay tuned.