There have been plenty of big headlines around the world of Major League Baseball today, led by the reports from several sources that Robinson Cano has chosen to leave the Bronx for the Pacific Northwest, along with former outfielder Curtis Granderson going to the cross-town New York Mets, the New York Yankees made of the their best moves of the hot stove season, agreeing to a 1-year, $16 million dollar deal with right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
Kuroda had previously turned down the Bombers qualifying offer of 1-year, $15 million dollars and had made it known to Yankees officials that he was on the fence about continuing his career. There had been speculation that he would either return to the Yankees for one more season in 2014, return to Japan to pitch closer to home, or retire altogether. While Kuroda was rated as one of the better free agent arms available, he and the Yankees worked under the radar while all of the attention went to free agent acquisitions Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and the impending defection of Cano to Seattle.
The new contract is contingent upon Kuroda passing his team physical, which is expected to be a formality. Kuroda will be entering his age-39 season in 2014, and the final details of the contract are still being hammered out. The Yankees will pay Kuroda an additional $500,000 for innings pitched-based incentives.
Kuroda finished 2013 with a 3.31 earned run average–best among Yankees starters last season who qualified for the E.R.A. title, but struggled down the stretch, posting a 1-7 record from August 1st forward, with an E.R.A. of 5.41. He will slot in at either the #2 or #3 hole in the Yankees rotation, depending on how the team’s pursuit of Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka plays out. The re-signing of Kuroda is a huge move for the Yankees, who had glaring holes in the rotation, and as of right now, the rotation projects to be C.C. Sabathia, Kuroda, a vacant #3 slot, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda.