2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Hiroki Kuroda

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Could Hiroki Kuroda strengthen the New York Mets' rotation in 2014?

Before he was a Major League Baseball player, Hiroki Kuroda played 11 seasons in with Nippon Professional Baseball as a pitcher for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. He left Japan after the 2007 season and signed a three-year, $35 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kuroda pitched very well with the Dodgers, putting up ERAs of 3.73, 3.76, 3.39, and 3.07 in his four years in L.A. After 2011, he signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Yankees. Kuroda transitioned to the American League well, posting a 3.32 ERA in 219⅔ innings, good for a 127 ERA+ and 5.5 bWAR. He hit free agency once again and signed a one-year, $15 million contract with the Yankees for the 2013 season. In 201⅓ innings, Kuroda posted a 3.31 ERA.

Despite his age—he'll be 39 in February—Kuroda has had few health concerns during his major league career. He missed significant time in 2009 with an oblique strain and then a concussion, but has had virtually no injuries during the last four seasons.

The cost

MLB Trade Rumors projected that Kuroda would receive a one-year, $16 million contract while Fangraphs predicted a two-year, $29.5 million contract. Kuroda received a qualifying offer from the Yankees, meaning that any team that signs him will lose their first unprotected draft pick. If the Mets were to sign him they would lose their second round pick and the corresponding portion of their bonus pool.

The fit

Kuroda seems likely to re-sign with the Yankees, though he may decide to return to Japan. It is possible that the Mets may be unwilling or unable to dedicate around $15 million to Kuroda for 2014. The Mets do need one or two pitchers, and while Kuroda’s age makes him an excellent candidate to get a short-term deal, it seems unlikely that Kuroda will be a member of the Mets’ rotation in 2014.

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