ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted this evening that the New York Yankees have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Olney went on to tweet that the deal was for $15 million, with possible incentives totaling less than $1 million. His signing takes one of the better available arms off the market and solidifies the Yankees' 2013 starting rotation.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman had reported that after initial reports that Kuroda was interested in pitching in Los Angeles, he had finally whittled his choices down to the Yankees or returning to Japan to finish his career. Undoubtedly, Kuroda’s successful 2012 season with the Yankees, where he went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA, played into his decision.
Although the Yankees have a number of aging players on their roster, and Kuroda is about to turn 38, his one-year contract is a safe bet for the Yankees. The right-hander has never had an ERA over 3.76 in his MLB career and flourished pitching in New York, which is something not all pitchers can claim.
Yankee Stadium is known as a hitter’s park, but Kuroda apparently never got that memo. He was 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA last season, which was significantly better than the 4.23 ERA he posted on the road.
The Yankees announced last month that their ace, C.C. Sabathia, underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean out his pitching elbow. Although the Chicago Tribune expects he will be ready for the start of the 2013 season, there is never any way to tell how a pitcher will respond from such a procedure. Having Kuroda back in the rotation is valuable insurance.
Even with the Yankees' intent on being more fiscally responsible in 2013, bringing back Kuroda on a one-year deal was a no-brainer. The Yankees can now move forward to see in what other ways they can shore up their team, secure in the knowledge that their pitching staff has one less question mark.
Statistics via BaseballReference
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