LOS ANGELES -- Former Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda could emerge as a top free-agent target of the club, even though management is increasingly optimistic that starting pitcher Chad Billingsley will avoid Tommy John elbow reconstruction and be ready to pitch in 2013. General manager Ned Colletti has made acquiring another starting pitcher a high priority because southpaw Ted Lilly is coming off shoulder surgery and Billingsley missed the last five weeks of the 2012 season with a partially torn elbow ligament. Billingsley threw a two-inning simulated game on Monday in Arizona, another step forward in his rehab. But that won't preclude Colletti from signing another starter to join the four healthy members of the Dodgers' rotation -- Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano.
The top starting pitchers on the free-agent market are Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse and Jake Peavy. All are expected to receive multiyear contracts. Kuroda, 37, left the Dodgers a year ago and signed a one-year contract for $12 million with the Yankees. The Dodgers, in bankruptcy at the time, instead signed Harang and Capuano for less than $12 million combined in 2012 salaries. The Dodgers now have the financial resources to satisfy Kuroda if he's willing to accept another one-year contract. Kuroda had a typically reliable season for the Yankees, going 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 219 2/3 innings, three complete games and two shutouts.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.