The Yankees officially announced the Hiroki Kuroda signing — a one-year, $10MM contract with a full no-trade clause — earlier this week, and yesterday he spoke publicly for the first time since agreeing to come to New York. “[The Dodgers] were unable to ever make a formal offer, I couldn’t wait any longer,” said Kuroda to Dylan Hernandez. The right-hander confirmed he received offers from several teams but only seriously considered the Yankees and the Hiroshima Carp, his former team in Japan. He turned down more lucrative offers to wear pinstripes.
“They have an incredible tradition,” said Kuroda of joining the Yankees. “They contend for the championship every year. I wanted to play for a team like that. When you get to my age, you don’t know how much longer you can pitch and I wanted to experience that before my career ended.” Kuroda never got to pitch in the playoffs in Japan, and the Dodgers qualified for the postseason only twice in his four years there. “To be a part of a team like that is something I will be proud of.”
Kuroda also spoke briefly about his relationships with Russell Martin, Clayton Kershaw, and Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Hernandez says that Kuroda’s wife and two school-age daughters will remain in Los Angeles while he is in New York this summer, and he’s preparing for 2012 as if it will be his last season. “There will be a lot of change,” he said. ““Not only a baseball player, but also as a person, I think this will be an important year for me.”