2B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Age: 31
Born: February 9, 1979
Height: 5′ 9″
Weight: 176
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Signed: Purchased by Tampa Bay from Japan on 12/15/2006
How Acquired: Trade (for Jesse Chavez)
Agent: Alan Nero


Akinori Iwamura was posted by his Japanese team, Yakult, in November 2006.  The Tampa Bay Rays paid $4.55 M to Yakult for the right to negotiate with Iwamura, and eventually signed him to a three year, $7.7 M deal, with an option for the 2010 season.  The deal included a rare stipulation that grants Iwamura free agency two years early if he is not extended after the 2010 season.

Iwamura combined for a .281/.354/.393 line in 1349 at-bats for Tampa Bay between 2007 and 2009.  In May 2009 he suffered a torn ACL when colliding with Chris Coghlan while attempting to turn a double play at second base.  Iwamura returned to action in late August 2009, but in his time off Ben Zobrist won his starting job at second base.

Iwamura had an option for the 2010 season that had to be exercised by early November.  The emergence of Zobrist led Tampa Bay to trade Iwamura, rather than declining the option and getting no compensation.  Pittsburgh traded relief pitcher Jesse Chavez straight up for Iwamura on November 3rd, 2009, filling their hole at second base.

If Iwamura can bounce back from his ACL injury, he will be very similar in value to Freddy Sanchez. Not only does Iwamura have decent numbers at the plate, but he’s also capable on defense, with a 1.4 UZR/150 rating in his three year career.  Over the last three years, Iwamura has been worth 6.2 wins above replacement, while Freddy Sanchez has been worth 6.3 wins above replacement in that same time span.  If Iwamura does rebound to that level of performance, and no internal options emerge at second, the Pirates could consider extending him beyond the 2010 season.


Report from Baseball-reference.com

3 years/$7.7 M plus 2010 club option

2007: $1,800,000
2008: $2,400,000
2009: $3,250,000
2010: $4,850,000 club option (exercised by Pittsburgh on 11/3/2009)

Other Details:
  • Contract includes clause requiring team to sign Iwamura to extension by end of the deal or release him (thus granting him free agency early).
  • 2010 option increased from $4.25 M to $4.85 M due to plate appearances from 2007-2009
Signing Bonus: None
MLB Debut: 4/2/2007
MLB FA Eligible: 2011
Added to 40-Man: 12/15/2006
Options Remaining: 3 (As of start of 2010 season)
MLB Service Time: 3.000

Baseball America

2007: #7 TB

December 15, 2006: Signed a three year, $7.7 M contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
November 3, 2009: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Jesse Chavez.
September 7, 2010: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
September 10, 2010: Released by the Pittsburgh Pirates.