LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are trying to re-sign starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and, according to a Sanspo report from his native Japan, the right-hander is close to accepting a one-year, $12 million contract. The club would not comment on the report. Kuroda, who will be 36 next year, is a free agent coming off a three-year, $35.3 million contract that brought him to the Major Leagues after 11 seasons as an ace in Japan. Although he has only three years of Major League service, his contract allowed him to become a free agent three years early. He is 28-30 with a 3.60 ERA as a Dodger.
The Opening Day starter in 2009, Kuroda would likely slot in as the fourth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly, who recently signed a three-year, $33 million deal to remain with the Dodgers. When the season ended, general manager Ned Colletti listed Lilly and Kuroda as two of his priority targets. Kuroda went 11-13 in 2010 with a 3.39 ERA and pitched 196 1/3 innings, remaining healthy the entire season after two years interrupted by injuries. When the season ended, Kuroda was noncommittal about whether he would remain in the Major Leagues or return to pitch in his native Japan. The Dodgers will probably sign several journeymen to compete for the fifth starter's job with youngsters John Ely and Carlos Monasterios. The Dodgers also have been linked to Japanese batting champ Tsuyoshi Nishioka, but the team's interest apparently doesn't match that of the player, who has let it be known that he wants to play for a West Coast team. As a second baseman without power, Nishioka doesn't appear to be a fit for the Dodgers, who need a slugging left fielder, a catcher with Russell Martin coming off a broken hip and a third baseman who could hasten Casey Blake's transition to utility. Signing Nishioka would also require a seven-figure posting fee paid to his Japan club. The Dodgers are leaning toward keeping Ryan Theriot at second base, although he is a non-tender candidate.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.