Hiroki Kuroda’s Possible Return is an Outside Chance


Out of all the free agent possibilities as far as starting pitchers, I would most like to see the Dodgers bring back Hiroki Kuroda. Players come and go. That’s a facet to the game that sometimes I have a hard time with. I admittedly sometimes get emotionally attached to certain players. After all they become part of my daily life from April through October every year. I follow the players on Twitter and in the newsfeed year round. Every offseason it’s a little bit sad when players are not resigned or they are non-tendered. It’s hard to watch a former favorite Dodger play in a different color uniform. I think the worst example of this was when Mike Piazza was traded. I was heartbroken along with countless other Dodger fans. In fact, I still haven’t recovered.

Former Dodger teammates Russell Martin and Hiroki Kuroda meet on the mound. Photo: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Hiroki Kuroda in pinstripes seems so strange to me still. I was downright angry when the Dodgers didn’t resign Hiroki Kuroda last winter. Frank McCourt’s financial turmoil didn’t allow Ned Colletti the budget to resign the veteran right-hander to a one-year deal. Instead, he went out and picked up two pitchers for the price of one- Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano. Last offseason I was angrily doubting Cappy’s value, but now I can say that both Harang and Capuano pitched fine. They were reliable. I still yearned for Hiro at times though. Sometimes I would see a Yankee game where Kuroda would be pitching well, and I was jealous. In an ironic twist, Kuroda’s battery mate would be none other than former Dodger Russell Martin (whom I do not miss as much). While the Yankees declined to offer Martin a qualifying offer, they have made Kuroda a qualifying offer for $13.3 million. If Hiroki decides to sign elsewhere, New York will be compensated with a draft pick. If the Dodgers should sign him, they would lose their first round draft pick which would be 19th overall. That loss of the draft pick alone could cause the Dodgers to think twice about going after Kuroda.

This is the first time that baseball has used this system of qualifying offers rather than arbitration.

Will Hiroki Kuroda stay in New York, return to Japan, or test the free agent market? Photo: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE

Players have until Friday at midnight to decide whether they will accept the offers.

Kuroda reportedly would like another one-year contract for 2013. He likes to keep his future open to possibly finish off his professional career with the Hiroshima Carp. Remember, Kuroda is extremely loyal. He did not want to leave the Dodgers, but he had to sign elsewhere last season after the Dodgers failed to make him an offer. I could see Hiroki staying in New York again, but perhaps he will return to Japan. Either way, both the Dodgers and the Yankees have the cash to satisfy a one-year deal to his liking so the decision will be up to Kuroda. Japan, New York, or Los Angeles?

The 37-year old had a very solid season for New York this past season, and he finished with a 16-11 record.  Kuroda pitched in 219 2/3 games, and posted a 3.32 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 167/51 K/BB.  Since coming to the United States to pitch for the Dodgers in 2008, Kuroda has accumulated 918 2/3 innings pitched with a 57-57 record and 3.42 ERA.