There might be a reason why the Los Angeles Angels have reportedly gotten involved in trying to sign free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
Previously, teams have been under the impression that Kuroda would either re-sign with the New York Yankees or return to his native Japan to finish his career. But Kuroda has told friends that his first preference is to pitch in Southern California, where his two daughters are attending elementary school.
That means the Dodgers and Angels could be the frontrunners to acquire the 37-year-old right-hander, who is coming off his finest season in the major leagues. Considering Kuroda spent his first four seasons in the United States with the Dodgers, they would have a presumptive edge.
Largely due to financial constraints while they were in bankruptcy, the Dodgers did not make Kuroda a formal offer when he was a free agent last winter -- though he was coming off a season with a 3.07 ERA and more than 200 innings pitched. He went to New York and went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA.
A source with knowledge of the Dodgers' plans said Friday that Kuroda “seems to have many options.” Kuroda turned down the Yankees' one-year qualifying offer of $13.3 million, so that salary would seem to be the starting point for negotiations. The Dodgers would forfeit a draft pick to New York in order to sign Kuroda.
The fact he is reportedly seeking only a one-year deal would fit the Dodgers’ needs perfectly since, even if Chad Billingsley undergoes elbow surgery, he should be ready some time in 2014.