Hiroki Kuroda is a free agent this hot stove season, but by most accounts his choices are down to two teams. The right-handed pitcher will likely either come back to the Los Angeles Doders, with whom he has spent the last four seasons, or return to Japan to rejoin the Hiroshima Carp, with whom he pitched for 11 seasons from 1997-2007.
Kuroda commented: "I’m happy that they would evaluate my contributions like that. Naturally, I’m happy. A feeling that they really want to win came across. (Hiroshima’s competitiveness this season) has come to a frustrating place, to a place where they are one step away… I’m very happy I got an offer from the Carp."
The Dodgers had a chance to trade Kuroda in July as they were out of the race, but Kuroda exercised his no-trade clause, calling it a very tough decision and one based out of loyalty to the team he signed with in December 2007. He signed a one-year deal last season for $12 million, and earned another $500,000 in performance bonuses.
Kuroda turns 37 in February, but is still one of the best options on the free agent market. He went 13-16 with a career-best 3.07 ERA in a career-high 202 innings in 2011. The Dodgers' starting rotation now consists of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Ted Lilly, with folks like Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland possibly filling out the back end. If the Dodgers can't convince Kuroda to return to Los Angeles, they will almost certainly pursue other options, either via free agency or trade.
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