Last offseason the Yankees didn’t sign Hiroki Kuroda until mid-January. They didn’t wait that long this winter. Kuroda has officially signed a new contract with New York, the team announced. Buster Olney says it’s a one-year deal worth $15M plus incentives that total less than $1M. Pretty sweet deal.
“I am very happy and excited to re-sign with the Yankees,” said Kuroda in a statement. “I am very grateful for all of the interest and all of the offers that I received from the various teams that courted me. It was a tough decision for me to make, but at the end of the day, I wanted to try to win a championship with the teammates that I went to battle with last season.”
Kuroda, 38 in February, pitched to a 3.32 ERA (3.86 FIP) in a career-high 33 starts and 219.2 innings with the Yankees in 2012, his first season in pinstripes. He also tacked on two stellar postseason starts for good measure, bringing his season total to 235.2 innings. That workload is a bit of a concern heading into next year, but at the end of the day, bringing Kuroda back for a year was far too good to pass up.
The one-year contract works well for both sides. The Yankees are trying to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014 and this deal won’t impact future payroll. It also limits risk stemming from that career-high workload. Kuroda maintains he will finish his playing career back in Japan, so he has the flexibility to go back home after the season. The Yankees made the right-hander a qualifying offer a few weeks ago and would have received draft pick compensation had he signed with a different MLB team.
With Kuroda back in the fold, the next order of business for Brian Cashman & Co. is to re-sign Mariano Rivera and hopefully do the same with Andy Pettitte should he decide to keep playing. Right field and catcher must also be addressed, but shoring up the rotation was a more pressing matter. The Yankees can now move forward with their offseason plan knowing they have a reliable innings guy to slot between CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes in the rotation.