Starting pitching has been—and will continue to be—one of the main focuses for the Boston Red Sox this offseason, and Hiroki Kuroda could be the guy who solves some of the club’s problems.
Kuroda signed a one-year deal with the New York Yankees last offseason, and it paid major dividends for the Bronx Bombers. Kuroda ended up winning 16 games, posting a 3.32 ERA and pitching in well over 200 innings in what turned out to be a very successful first year in the American League for the Japanese right-hander.
Now that Kuroda’s contract in New York has expired, it’s Boston’s chance to land him. The Yankees did, however, extend a qualifying offer to Kuroda. That would mean a one-year, $13.3 million deal to return to New York. He has yet to accept or decline the qualifying offer, but a team would really have to top it in order for him to sign elsewhere, according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.
The Red Sox are interested in signing Kuroda—the guy who went 2-0 in five starts against them in 2012—according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Signing Kuroda wouldn’t even cost as much as you’d think, either.
When teams submit qualifying offers to the top players entering free agency, they ensure that they will receive draft-pick compensation if that player signs elsewhere. The team who signs the player has to forfeit its first-round draft pick to the team who lost the player.
Since the Red Sox were so bad in 2012, their first-round pick is protected. Signing Kuroda would mean that they would forfeit their second-round pick instead, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
Kuroda is an older pitcher who has expressed interest in returning to Japan before he retires, so a one-year deal seems more than fitting for him. That one season is really all that the Red Sox need.
Prospects such as Matt Barnes, Allan Webster and Rubby De La Rosa could be in the big leagues in no time. By signing Kuroda, that gives them one more minor league season to continue their development.
As it stands now, the Red Sox would have Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and John Lackey in the starting rotation, leaving one open spot. Boston could flirt with throwing Alfredo Aceves into the rotation, but the last time they tried to transition a reliever into a starter, it didn’t go so well.
They could decide to keep Franklin Morales in the rotation as well, but in the scheme of things, neither of those moves really improve a starting rotation that was terrible just a year ago.
The Red Sox are looking at a variety of free-agent starters as well as some trade candidates that could fit into their 2013 plans. However, nothing would be better than signing Kuroda. He has already proved that he can pitch in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, and he’s not a guy who is going to bring a lot of attention to himself.
Boston needs a pitcher who will just go out to the mound every fifth day, do his job and be a part of a winning baseball team. That’s Hiroki Kuroda.
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