Red Sox Interest in Hiroki Kuroda a Little Concerning


Multiple reports recently have the Red Sox interested in free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.  Haven’t we seen this type of thing before?  The Red Sox looking at signing a free-agent pitcher who’s close to the end of his career and will be grossly overpaid?  Yes, that’s right his name was John Lackey.

If the Red Sox should sign Kuroda, it’s clear they haven’t learnt from their mistakes in the past.

This is the same Kuroda who used his no-trade clause last summer to remain with the Dodgers despite the Red Sox showing interest in him then.  When the Dodgers recently signed Chris Capuano to join their rotation it drew a line in the sand with Kuroda.  He appears to be the odd man out and now the Japan native will consider all offers, no matter where the team is located according to Ken Rosenthal.

Last season, Kuroda went 13-16 with an ERA of 3.07.  His WHIP of 1.213 was slightly above his career average, although he’s only been in the majors for four years, all with the Dodgers.  He averaged 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings last season again, slightly ahead of his career average of 6.7.  Kuroda is a bit of work horse, throwing over 200 innings in 2011 and averaging around 175 innings per season.

So far it’s not too bad.  But here’s where things turn against Kuroda.

He’s 36-years old and as I mentioned earlier, he’s only been in the majors for four seasons.  His career record of 41-46 is concerning, especially when you consider he won a career high 13 games last year.  It doesn’t matter what he did during his playing time in Japan, this is the Major Leagues, things are a little different here.  Consider he’s always pitched in the NL West and a shift to the AL East where he’ll face more potent offensive lineups could be disastrous.

We’ve seen these flashes in the pan from overseas before.  How well did Hideo Nomo turn out? He had a couple good years to start then fizzled when everyone figured out how to hit him.

While Kuroda won’t make C.J. Wilson money next season, he is reportedly seeking a multi-year deal in that $11 – $12 million per season range.  That’s a lot of money for someone with his credentials.  John Lackey anyone?

Why would the Red Sox even entertain this guy?  If his price tag was half of what he’s reporting to be asking for then maybe take a chance on him for one-year.  But to spend $12 million and give him multi-years?  Walk away Ben, rather run, run far away from Kuroda.

It’s these types of foolish contracts that the Red Sox need to stay away from. They’ve been burdened by them in the past and John Lackey is the perfect example. Look how well he turned out.  Dice-K is a little different in that he was a bidding war that the Red Sox won, but again, good numbers in Japan haven’t really transformed to MLB success.

Besides, this scenario doesn’t fit into the game plan that Cherington laid out of going after low-value pitchers that might be deemed a gamble.  Kuroda’s a gamble all right, and an expensive one at that.

Surely there has to be other free agents who will be cheaper and not to mention younger that can win you 13 games. Edwin Jackson could make similar money as Kuroda and while he may not be worth that much, he’d be a better signing.

There are multiple clubs reportedly interested in Kuroda aside from the Red Sox.  The Yankees, Angels, Rockies, Marlins and Rangers are all said to have shown interest in the free agent pitcher, so perhaps this is a ploy to drive up the price on the Yankees.  Let’s hope that’s all it is.  The Yankees can have him.  I’ll elect to go for a younger pitcher and take my chances when Kuroda comes to Fenway.

Erik Bedard looks pretty good at this point if you consider signing Kuroda.

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