With the trade deadline nine days away, the last place Dodgers are in a rather unique position as sellers. However, the problem is they don't have many pieces that will fetch any kind of return in trade. The player that is in the most demand is Hiroki Kuroda, who might have two more starts this season as a Dodger.
Kuroda has been a very steady pitcher for the Dodgers for nearly four seasons, and the 36-year old has a 3.13 ERA this season in 20 starts, a figure that belies his 6-11 record. Earlier this week, Jeff Sullivan at Baseball Nation summed up Kuroda like this:
He's never had Brad Radke's pinpoint command, and he's never been an extreme ground-baller. But he's good at everything, and when you put it all together, you get a pitcher who, over the past three-and-a-half seasons, has posted a lower ERA than Chad Billingsley and Justin Verlander.
There's a very good chance that Kuroda is the best starting pitcher available at the trade deadline. He signed a $12 million, one-year deal last winter, though $4 million of that is a deferred bonus, so his true 2011 salary is $8 million. Any team trading for him on July 31 would be on the hook for roughly $2.58 million, and that's before considering if the Dodgers would consider eating some or all of Kuroda's remaining salary to net a better player or players in return.
Kuroda does have a no-trade clause, which throws a bit of a wrench into the plans, but Kuroda is still likely to be dealt. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted Thursday:
Source: Kuroda will decide whether to waive no-trade on case-by-case basis. Will not give #Dodgers formal list of teams he will okay.
General manager Ned Colletti met with Kuroda earlier this week in San Francisco, and per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, "Kuroda said Colletti told him he doesn't want to deal him and wants him to return next year, but that he wants to offer Kuroda the chance to win."
Kuroda is scheduled to pitch Friday night as the Dodgers open a series with Washington at Dodger Stadium. If Kuroda is still a Dodger, Wednesday against the Colorado is his last start before the trade deadline.
For more news and information on Hiroki Kuroda and the Dodgers, be sure to read the SB Nation blog True Blue LA.