Dodgers to Bid on Japanese Pitcher

Free agent pitchers are as difficult to locate as finding a non-partisan politician, and the Dodgers are loath to part with any of their exceptional young talent in a trade, so according to Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News, they are planning to bid on a Japanese pitcher who has filed for free agency.

    They will be in competition with almost every team in major league baseball when the bidding war starts for Hiroki Kuroda, 32, a right-hander for the Hiroshima Carp of the Japanese Central League.

The Dodgers, industry sources told Jackson, plan to join what is expected to be a bidding for the services of Kuroda, a control pitcher with a fastball in the 95-mph range who projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Kuroda nearly came to America a year ago before signing a four-year, 1.2 billion yen contract (about $10 million U.S.) to remain with the Carp. But that deal included an escape clause after the first year, which Kuroda chose to exercise.

A free agent, Kuroda is exempt from the posting system that cost the Boston Red Sox $51.1 million up front last winter simply for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka, whom they eventually signed for six years and an additional $52 million.

Kuroda, whose talent is comparable to just about any free-agent pitcher on this year's market, is expected to command a three-year contract worth between $21 million and $24 million.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti declined to comment on his club's intentions because he wasn't sure how baseball's anti-tampering rules might apply to this situation. Teams can begin negotiating with Kuroda on Nov. 14.

Kuroda has recorded a 103-89, 3.69 record over 11 seasons with a remarkable 74 complete games in 244 career starts. He is said to favor Seattle because pitching to countryman Kenji Johjima, the Mariners' primary catcher, would make for an easier transition.

However, the Dodgers also have a prominent Japanese player in closer Takashi Saito, who is said to have a close friendship with Kuroda. Saito also is an Octagon client.

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