After spending a year pitching in the Bronx, Hiroki Kuroda has reportedly been making it known to friends that his preference would be to return to southern California, where his two daughters reside. We’ve heard this geographical preference from Kuroda before, and obviously he’ll probably be willing to make an exception if the Yankees blow him away with an especially lucrative offer, but it sounds as though he’d be more comfortable returning to the Dodgers, a team he spent four years with, or another team in that region.
Kuroda, who will be 38 before the 2013 season starts, made a difficult transition from the NL West in one of baseball’s most pitcher-friendly parks to the loaded AL East last and handled it with aplomb. Kuroda was worth 3.9 WAR per FanGraphs in 2012, the second highest total of the Yankee rotation behind only staff ace CC Sabathia.
While obviously not a candidate for a long-term deal due to his age, teams looking for a short-term solution in their rotation could do a lot worse than inking Kuroda to a one or two-year deal this offseason. He’s failed to make at least 31 starts only once in five years since being imported from Japan, he owns a solid 3.42 career ERA, and his control is always excellent. Until the inevitable age-related decline sets in, Koroda figures to remain a consistent starter, and someone who could hold his own as a number-three even in a very strong rotation.