Cubs Potential Offseason Targets: Akinori Iwamura
Let's move back to the infield and check in on another possible second basemen...the Rays Akinori Iwamura.
Iwamura will be 31 next season and missed most of 2009 with a torn MCL. He's due $4.25M in the final year of his deal with a $250K buyout according to Cot's (the St. Petersburg Times says $4.85M with a $550K buyout). Although he has less than 6 years service time, his contract allows him to be a free agent if his option isn't picked up which is becoming standard fare for the Japanese players signing in the U.S. I have no idea what the Rays plans are at second base, and Iwamura himself would like to stay in Tampa according to that link above. But as a small market team, you have to think the Rays would always be willing to move a contract in the right deal if they have other options and Ben Zobrist made a pretty fine other option last season.
The offensive numbers won't really strike the fear of God in anyone. He has spent most of his time with the Rays as their leadoff man and with a walk rate around 10% per plate appearance while seeing well over 4 pitcher per plate appearances, he seems well suited for that part of the job requirement. His basestealing numbers are rather poor though, being successful less than 65% of the time and a career high of 12.
Defensively, BP has his Rate2 numbers at 96 and below average at second base and 101 for his season at third base in 2007. UZR is a little kinder and the Fan's Scouting Report was really high on him for 2007 and 2008. He also won a bunch of gold gloves in Japan.
I say if the Cubs are chatting with the Rays about Milton Bradley, let's see if they can get Iwamura in a deal instead of Pat Burrell who would have no place to play with the Cubs. Now of course there are other logistics to the whole Bradley/Burrell rumor and I don't even know if the Rays are shopping Iwamura yet or will just buy him out. But if the Cubs did acquire Iwamura, he could challenge Jeff Baker for the starting spot at an affordable price and be a good backup/bench option at third base. It's not Chase Utley but could be another small improvement for the 2010 team.