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Dodgers' prospects for re-signing Hiroki Kuroda look dim

November 18, 2011 |  3:55 pm

Kuroda1

The Dodgers may soon be looking for two new starting pitchers.

The Dodgers were hopeful they would be able to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda for one more season, but budget constraints are apparently about to drive the right-hander elsewhere.

"I think we’re going to have a hard time signing him," Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said Friday.

Kuroda, who turns 37 in April, still has yet to decide whether he wants to return to Japan to pitch next season, though the financial gap between what he wants from the Dodgers and what they are offering could ultimately push him back to his homeland.

Kuroda earned $12 million last season from the Dodgers, going a misleading 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.

Colletti said he’s spoken with Kuroda’s agent a half-dozen times since the season ended, including Thursday, but it’s hardly left him optimistic.

"We’re still talking," Colletti said. "I don’t know if it’s going to be possible or not."

Kuroda has made $47 million during his four seasons with the Dodgers. He earned $15.4 million in 2010, and then, after going 11-13 with a 3.39 ERA, took a $2.6-million pay cut last season.

It’s presumed the bankrupt Dodgers want him to take another pay cut for next season, but for now Kuroda apparently is balking at how much.

"We have the two issues. One is whether he wants to stay here and the other is whether we can afford to keep him," Colletti said.

Colletti said the team payroll will be less in 2012 than it was last season.

Kuroda wants to pitch one more year. If he does sign with another major-league team or returns to Japan, Colletti will have to scramble to fill out his rotation beyond Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. The free-agent market is thin for starting pitchers. Colletti reportedly is looking at veteran free agents Jeff Francis, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano.

The Dodgers wouldn’t mind giving rookie Nathan Eovaldi a season at triple-A, but if they are unable to re-sign Kuroda, they might be forced to start the season with the young right-hander in the rotation.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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