ESPN Los Angeles reports that the Dodgers have agreed to terms with free agent starter Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year contract that will pay the 35-year old $8 million for next season. According to the report, Kuroda will also receive a $4 million signing bonus that will be paid in 2012 and 2013.
Debuting with the Dodgers in 2008 at age 33, Kuroda quickly became Los Angeles' most consistent starting pitcher of the last three seasons. His best talent is keeping runners off the bases. His WHIP was third best among Dodger starters in 2010, but both Ted Lilly and Vicente Padilla pitched fewer than half the innings that Kuroda logged while posting better WHIP numbers.
For the season, Kuroda made 31 starts and only allowed 180 hits in 196.1 innings on the hill. He also had his best K/9 IP of his three year career. His walk numbers looked higher, but much of that increase was due to Joe Torre asking Kuroda to issue 13 intentional passes in 2010. His unintentional walk rate was 1.6 per 9 IP, the best mark of his career.
Earlier this offseason, LA signed Lilly to a three year extension. With Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, already under team control, the final spot in the rotation will likely come down to free agent Padilla, should the club attempt to resign him, or John Ely, who had turned in an up and down rookie year in 2010 starting 18 games for the Dodgers. Kuroda turns 36 this February.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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