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Hiroki Kuroda Rumors
Here’s the latest out of the game’s eastern divisions:
- Phillies hurler Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will have a chance to start next spring, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “The plan for him is to try to get him to the point where he’s a starter again and to put him in the mix for us next year,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said it remains to be seen whether he’ll earn a role. “I don’t know, but we have starter deficiencies and we have holes there and we’d like to put him in a position where he can at least compete for a spot,” Amaro explained.
- Meanwhile, the Phillies announced a significant front office change: assistant GM Marti Wolever, who ran the team’s amateur scouting efforts, will not be back next year. As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, Philadelphia has had some positives but also some notable negatives in converting drafted players into big league production. Of course, some of the young players that Wolever brought in were ultimately dealt away before they were able to contribute for the Phils. More front office turnover could well be coming, says Zolecki.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco says that the club has flexibility due to its array of young arms, as Matt Ehalt of the The Record reports. “We’ll look at it and decide if we feel we can move one or more starters in a deal to fill out other areas on the team that are not as deep,” said Ricco. “It’s not a bad situation to be in. As you look around the league and see the injuries to pitchers, it’s a reminder of how many guys you do need.”
- While he remains undecided on his future, Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda left the impression that he could be leaning away from playing in the big leagues next year. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, Kuroda spoke like someone who will need to be convinced to return: “Right now, I cannot imagine what the answer is going to be,” he said. “I’m just relieved I was able to finish the season without getting hurt. If — and this is a big if — there are such talks, then I’d have to ask myself and think deeply whether I’d be able to produce.” Soon to be 40, Kuroda has not been quite as excellent as he was over his first two years in New York, but has nevertheless been plenty productive with 199 frames of 3.71 ERA baseball.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new, lengthy notes column in which he begins by examining the early scrutiny of MLB's new instant replay system. He points to a pair of blatantly missed calls on Saturday in which conclusive evidence was seen on TV broadcasts of the games but apparently not by the umpires at MLB's Replay Operations Center in New York. An MLB spokesperson confirmed to Rosenthal that one of those calls was blown and added that the system would continue to work on improvement. Rosenthal reminds that John Schuerholz, one of the architects of the system, said it would be a three-year roll out. However, he adds that MLB can't expect any patience from fans, players or managers when home viewers are able to make better judgments than the umpires at the Relay Operations Center.
Here are some more highlights from his article, which also contains notes on Jose Abreu, struggling offenses around the league and the Dodgers' interleague schedule…
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is the early front-runner for "first manager to get fired" due to the team's 4-11 start, but Rosenthal wonders what more Gibson can do with the pitching talent (or lack thereof) he has been given. GM Kevin Towers thinned out the rotation depth by trading Tyler Skaggs and David Holmberg this offseason, and the loss of Patrick Corbin compounded those moves. Rosenthal wonders how long the Snakes can wait before recalling Archie Bradley.
- One executive said to Rosenthal that any American League team with a need in the infield will have added incentive to work out a deal with Stephen Drew in order to prevent the Tigers from signing him. The AL Central powerhouse is currently going with Alex Gonzalez at short, and the results have been less than stellar.
- Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda told Rosenthal (through his interpreter) that he's never considered retirement as heavily as he did this offseason. The most difficult factor for Kuroda wasn't the separation from his L.A.-based family — they come live with him in the summer when his daughters are out of school — but rather that he simply loves and misses Japan. Kuroda again left open the possibility of finishing his career back in Japan.
- Both the Angels and Twins have a need in the outfield with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham on the disabled list, and both teams were interested in the recently DFA'ed Sam Fuld this offseason before he signed with the Athletics. Rosenthal reports that the A's will gauge trade possibilities for Fuld and wonders if the Halos and Twins could have interest.
- After signing a minor league deal in the 2012-13 offseason, Blue Jays right-hander Neil Wagner earned the pro-rated portion that deal's $525K salary while in the Majors last season. However, Toronto's pre-arbitration pay scale called for just a $506,250 salary in 2014, as it is based on service time rather than performance. Agent Jim Munsey and Wagner refused the deal, giving Toronto the freedom to renew Wagner's contract at $500K if they wished, which the team did. Said Munsey of the ordeal: "It's, obviously, disappointing that they cut Neil's pay after such a good season last year. And when we didn't agree to the pay cut, they cut it further in renewing him. Hard to cheer for that. … The rules allow the Jays to reduce his pay. They also allow us to talk about that at arbitration." MLBTR's Zach Links recently looked at teams' calculation of pre-arbitration salaries.
- Though the Rays' rotation has been ravaged by injuries to Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, the team is planning on using internal options rather than pursuing outside help.
SATURDAY: The Yankees have issued a press release announcing Kuroda's re-signing.
FRIDAY: The Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda finalized a one-year, $16MM contract last night that will allow the right-hander to earn up to $500K worth of incentives, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Kuroda, a client of Octagon's Steve Hilliard, will earn $250K for reaching the 190-inning and 210-inning milestones, according to Sherman.
Kuroda will turn 39 years old in February and was reported to be weighing a return to Japan or a return to a Southern California team in order to be closer to his family, who currently reside in that area due to Kuroda's days with the Dodgers. Kuroda turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees in November, getting tagged with the potential cost of a draft pick had he signed with a different MLB team. Instead, Kuroda will return to New York for a third season. Over the past two years, Kuroda has posted a 3.31 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 421 innings in Yankee pinstripes. Kuroda earned $15MM in 2013, so a $16MM salary represents a slight raise, as predicted in MLBTR's September free agent profile.
The Kuroda signing restores some much-needed depth to the Yankees' rotation, which had only C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova penciled in. With Robinson Cano agreeing to a contract with the Mariners today, the Yankees are now flush with payroll flexibility to bid on the best remaining starters. Masahiro Tanaka will likely be the top target if posted, while traditional free agents Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez remain on the board. The Yankees have already committed $254MM to free agent position players this offseason, most notably $153MM to Jacoby Ellsbury and $85MM to Brian McCann.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Yesterday, it was reported that the Yankees were optimistic about their chances of re-signing Kuroda, who has spent the past two seasons in Yankee pinstripes, posting a 3.31 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 421 innings. Kuroda earned $15MM in 2013, so a $16MM salary would represent a slight raise for the 38-year-old.
Kuroda's situation has been up in the air so far this season, as he's reportedly also been weighing a return to Japan and possibly returning to Southern California, where his family currently resides.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman is optimistic that starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda wants to play in 2014, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. "He wants to come back," Cashman says. "He’s going to pitch here, in Japan, or somewhere else, I don’t know yet. But all indications are, he is definitely interested in coming back to the Yankees. But there’s no guarantee that comes with that."
McCullough writes that the Yankees seem to have offered Kuroda a one-year deal with a raise over his $15MM 2013 salary. Earlier this week, a report indicated that the Yankees had offered around $15MM-$16MM for 2014. That offer has reportedly been on the table for some time. Kuroda, who will be 39 in February, posted a 3.31 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 2013.
4:25pm: Carig tweets that Kuroda has been mulling the offer over, but a decision isn't expected until after next week's Winter Meetings.
3:21pm: The Yankees have an offer on the table to right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Marchand reports that the offer is believed to be in the $15-16MM range. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News adds that the Yankees have had the offer on the table for quite some time, and the team never expected an answer until at least December (Twitter link). Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that it's been about a month since the offer was extended.
Kuroda, 38, pitched to a 3.31 ERA with 6.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 46.6 percent ground-ball rate in 201 1/3 innings for the the Yankees in 2013. However, he also faded down the stretch, posting a 6.56 ERA in 46 2/3 innings in his final eight starts of the season. Kuroda has already rejected a $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Yankees and is said to be entertaining the thought of returning to Japan or looking for an opportunity in Southern California, where his family currently lives.
Teams have asked the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he hasn't "entertained the idea" of trading either player. Bautista hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 2013 and saw his season end early after being shut down due to a hip issue. Encarnacion had a solid campaign, posting a slash line of .272/.370/.534 with 36 home runs. Bautista is owed $14MM annually through 2015 with a club option for the same amount in 2016 while Encarnacion will make $19MM through '15 with a $10MM club option for '16. Here's more out of the AL East…
- The Yankees are refusing to punt and are living for today with their Brian McCann signing, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. McCann's lefty pull power should provide a huge boost in 2014 (and probably '15 and '16), but beyond that is a mystery.
- Within the same article, Sherman writes that the Yankees are now more upbeat about the chances of Hiroki Kuroda returning. There remains a chance that the veteran pitcher decides to play in Japan next season.
- The McCann agreement allows the Yankees to take their time developing Gary Sanchez, their top prospect per MLB.com, knowing McCann will eventually move to first base or they can use him as a trade chip, tweets the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand.
- Feinsand, in a second tweet, sees the backup job coming down to Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli with Chris Stewart being non-tendered. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates the arbitration eligible Cervelli and Stewart will each earn $1MM.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders how McCann's new $85MM deal with the Yankees affects the Orioles' Matt Wieters. Wieters’ offensive numbers aren’t as good, but he is is two years younger than McCann and Scott Boras will certainly dig up data to show that Wieters is deserving of more money.
- Meanwhile, Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks at what McCann's deal might mean for Red Sox free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty is now the best avaialble free agent catcher and his market should now start to take shape.
- A combination of familiarity and affordability led to Jose Molina returning to the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Financial terms of the yet-to-be-completed deal are not yet known, but Topkin writes that it's unlikely that he received more than the $3.3MM total he made the last two seasons.
- The Orioles won't re-sign Tsuyoshi Wada, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The O's declined their club option on Wada earlier this month; but, at the time, the door was said to be open for a minor league deal in Baltimore.
- The Orioles need to be creative in wringing the most value out of Jim Johnson, writes the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. Encina dangles the idea of moving Johnson, who MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects to receive $10.8MM in arbitration, into the rotation, but that begs the questions of whether starting is a good fit for the 30-year-old right-hander and who will step in as closer.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Clayton Kershaw told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (on Twitter) his contract negotiations with the Dodgers aren't on hold, but they've haven't resumed since the season ended. Kershaw reportedly turned down a $300MM extension offer from the Dodgers earlier this year due to concerns about the length and size of the deal. While it has been assumed that Kershaw will extend his deal with the Dodgers, the baseball world will surely be paying attention to what will likely be the largest contract ever issued to a pitcher.
Here's the latest from both Los Angeles teams…
- "I think, for us, it wouldn't surprise me if we went [through] the winter without a huge move; not that it couldn't happen," Dodgers president Stan Kasten tells MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "We are looking more at deepening the organization, to fine-tune it and get into the season and see what we need. Having said that, I'm not ruling anything out. But those people who attach us to every free agent out there are making it up." With Kasten prioritizing the Dodgers' farm system, Gurnick finds it unlikely that the club would move what few top prospects it has in a trade for David Price.
- Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers "are kicking the tires" on such free agent pitchers as Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon and Bronson Arroyo. Given the big salaries some of these pitchers are demanding, you wonder if L.A. would really make a move to sign any given Kasten's earlier comments, though Kuroda, Colon and Arroyo could be had on less expensive, shorter-term deals.
- The Angels aren't one of the teams who have made an offer to Ricky Nolasco, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter). Nolasco is reportedly juggling several three- or four-year contracts offers.
- The rumored discord between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia could have led to one or both men being fired following the Angels' disappointing season, but Dipoto tells FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi and he and the long-time Halos manager have improved their communication and are on the same page.
- From that same piece, Dipoto reiterated that pitching will be the central focus of the Angels' offseason: "Frankly, we’ve been focused on [pitching] for a couple years and it’s eluded us. We plan on putting our resources toward improving those areas. On the field, that’s where our biggest changes are going to come.”
- The Angels' defense took a sharp decline from 2012 to 2013, and ESPN's David Schoenfeld thinks that the club should hold onto Peter Bourjos as a way of improving their fielding. Schoenfeld also suggests signing Jhonny Peralta, trading Mark Trumbo and acquiring Felix Doubront from the Red Sox.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post
Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched…or are they? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke. MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap.
Here's some news from around baseball…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
- The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said. Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
- Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
- Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets. The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
- Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
- Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign. Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America. Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.
Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, who look set for another busy offseason…
- The Jays have made inquiries about such catchers as Carlos Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports. Davidi also suspects Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has checked in on Brian McCann, to boot.
- The Jays were known to be looking to improve behind the plate this winter and current catcher J.P. Arencibia has drawn trade interest from other teams. Davidi says there is some feeling that Arencibia has too much "accumulated baggage" in Toronto and might not reach his potential in a Blue Jay uniform. Arencibia is projected to earn $2.8MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player this winter and the Jays would certainly prefer getting something back for him in a trade than simply non-tendering him.
- Ervin Santana, Tim Hudson and Hiroki Kuroda have all received calls from the Blue Jays, Davidi reports, noting that Hudson and Kuroda probably don't have any mutual interest. Hudson is being courted by over 10 teams while Kuroda seems to be set on either re-signing with the Yankees, returning to pitch in Japan or retiring.
- Also from Davidi, Munenori Kawasaki could sign a new minor league deal with the Jays that would pay him more than the $600K base salary he earned last season.
- In another piece from Davidi, Melky Cabrera is looking much healthier and fit after a tumor was surgically removed from his spine, Anthopoulos said. Cabrera looks to be the Jays' everyday choice in left field, though obviously that could change if he suffers a setback in his rehabilitation.
- Rajai Davis is likely to leave the Jays for a team that can offer him more playing time, Davidi reports. The club's hope is that Anthony Gose or Moises Sierra can be a low-cost replacement for Davis as a backup outfielder.
- Sierra is out of options and "is a prime candidate to be shopped," MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes. Brad Lincoln could also be part of a trade package, as Chisholm breaks down possible scenarios for the Jays' nine out-of-options players.