Although Kuroda has been effective, he is 38 years old and could be on the decline of his career. Even on a one-year deal, the right-hander could falter as he did down the stretch in 2013. In his last eight starts, he went 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA.
Depending on how the off-season goes, the Dodgers may not have room for Kuroda in their rotation. Kershaw, Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu have locked up 60 percent of the spots. Veteran Josh Beckett is expected to be healthy come spring training and will fight for a spot. Also, Chad Billingsley has been working hard to recover from Tommy John surgery and figures to compete for a starting spot once he is healthy. This leaves Kuroda without a definite spot, something he may not want to pursue.
Kuroda could also come with some baggage if the Yankees decide to make him a qualifying offer because then he would cost a team a potential first-round draft pick for his services. Judging by the Kyle Lohse situation last season, teams are less likely to pursue a free agent that received a qualifying offer, especially one that is looking for a short-term deal.
Based on the lack of depth in the free agent class, Kuroda could be one of the most coveted free agent pitchers. His age will likely limit him to a one-year deal; however, he could possibly receive an offer of two years. Based on what other pitchers have been receiving, Kuroda could command anywhere from $16-20 million dollars for one season of work. Tim Lincecum recently received a two-year deal worth $35 million and Kuroda has been a better pitcher than Lincecum the past two seasons.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 15%
The Dodgers are in need of starting pitching but may be turned off if Kuroda receives a qualifying offer from the Yankees. The team wouldn’t want to give up a first-rounder in exchange for a season of services.
However, the Dodgers are familiar with Kuroda and would like some stability and consistency in the back of their rotation. It will be interesting to see where Kuroda goes this off-season and we may see him in Dodger Blue next season.
In case you missed it, here’s the Dodgers pool celebration, PLUS Yasiel Puig’s celebration dance off!