Ned Gets His Man, Signs Hiroki Kuroda

The Dodgers signed a three-year agreement with Japanese free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. He will join a rotation that features Brad Penny, Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley. The fifth starter will come from a group of candidates that includes Jason Schmidt and Esteban Loaiza.

  Ned Colletti now has filled two of the club's biggest holes (a starting pitcher and a CF) without giving up any of the Dodgers' young players.

The contract is believed to be in the $36- to $40 million range. The Mariners and the Kansas City Royals offered as much money, rumored to be four years at $48 million. Both the Mariners and the Royals offered four year contracts but he opted for the Dodgers three-year offer, feeling he might like to return to Japan to finish out his career.

The deal is pending the obligatory physical examination but club officials aren't commenting for now.

Kuroda, 32, went 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 seasons while pitching in a hitter's park for the Hiroshima Carp. He also has tossed 74 complete games. He throws a fastball at 92-94 mph and an above average slider and changeup, and some scouts have compared him favorably with Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Despite trade rumors for the likes of Erik Bedard and Dan Haren, Kuroda has been the Dodgers' primary pitching target this offseason.

Russell Nabs Another Award-- Dodgers catcher Russell Martin was named winner of the 2007 Tip O'Neill Award presented annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution, while adhering to baseball's highest ideals.

"I'm simply overwhelmed," said Martin in a release. "I'd trade this and my other individual awards for a few more wins and a trip to the postseason, but I do play hard and I play with passion, and obviously people appreciate that."

Martin was the National League's starting catcher in this year's All-Star Game, and he also won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards for NL backstops. Larry Walker is the only other Canadian to win a Gold Glove, and Walker and Justin Morneau are the only other Canadians to win Silver Sluggers.

Martin outpolled Morneau, Jeff Francis and Erik Bedard to win the O'Neill Award.

Johnston resigns: Camille Johnston, the Dodgers' senior vice president of communications the past two years, resigned on Friday. Johnston is the second senior club official to leave in the last month after the departure of chief operating officer Marty Greenspun.

Johnston had been credited for improving internal and external communications for the organization. However, speculation of her departure began with last month's hiring of Dr. Charles Steinberg as executive vice president of marketing, public relations and chief marketing officer.

Ahead of Their Time-- Former Dodger General Manager pointed out that buried in the historical section of the Mitchell report is a great irony. Nineteen years before BALCO and nine years before Barry Bonds came to San Francisco, the Giants were one of two teams that pushed for the inclusion of mandatory drug testing for players in the 1984 collective-bargaining agreement, but were rebuffed by the rest of baseball.

This had nothing to do with steroids, but came in the wake of a cocaine scandal in baseball. Owners and the Players Association agreed to a joint drug program that included voluntary testing.

According to the Mitchell report, "The Players Association reiterated its opposition to mandatory drug testing soon thereafter. Two clubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, attempted to require drug testing as a term of new player contracts.

Negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement were suspended until the two clubs withdrew that request and all of the clubs agreed that the joint program, without mandatory testing, would take the place of any such unilateral contract provision."

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