Hiroki Kuroda and his decision to remain a Dodger
Kuroda was the one potential deadline prize the Dodgers had to tangle, the only player who might bring a good prospect in return.
And he told them, no thanks.
"Through my agent, I informed the general manager of my intention to wear this uniform for the remainder of the season," Kuroda said.
"Last year, I thought a lot and decided that I wanted to pitch the entire season with this team. I want to fulfill that obligation until the very end."
Hey, that’s great. That’s certainly his right. And exactly why he negotiated the no-trade clause in his one-year contract.
Of course, if he was truly so loyal to the Dodgers, he would have permitted a trade that allowed them to actually get a prospect in return, a player to have for their future.
But try to think of it this way: By staying, the Dodgers will have to pay him the full $4 million remaining on his contract. And that’s $4 million weaker it will leave Frank McCourt.
So long term, probably the best thing for Dodgers fans.
And, of course, this makes it easier for all involved for Kuroda to return to the Dodgers next season.
"If he wants to come back here next year, we would definitely be interested," General Manager Ned Colletti said.
Kuroda, like on every subject he is asked about concerning the future, said he hasn’t thought about next season. He’ll be 37 next season, but certainly appears capable of pitching again.
Of course, they’re waiting for him back in Hiroshima, anticipating he will finish his career where it started. He played 11 seasons for the Carp and never reached the playoffs.
He reached the playoffs twice with the Dodgers and had an opportunity to reach the playoffs this season had he waived his no-trade clause. Boston, New York and Texas were all reportedly in serious pursuit. And starting pitching was at a premium.
But Kuroda is plainly in his comfort zone with the Dodgers and in Los Angeles. And however tempting he actually felt pitching for a contender was, he was staying where he and his family were comfortable.
"It can’t ever be easy for anybody to pick up and take your family somewhere, to go to a new city, an all new environment, all new teammates," Manager Don Mattingly said. "That can’t be an easy thing for someone who kind of lives here. And Hiro being from another country and understands a little bit of the language, but can’t just go somewhere and be accustomed really fast. I can understand the reasoning."
So he’ll be here the next two months, with no prospect arriving in return for the Dodgers to build with. All while McCourt is out $4 million. It’s hardly all bad.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Hiroki Kuroda watches from the dugout during the second inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images