The New York Yankees today announced they have signed right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year Major League contract.
Kuroda, 36, went 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA (202.0 IP, 69 ER) in 32 starts with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011, establishing career bests in wins, ERA, games started, innings pitched and strikeouts (161). With runners in scoring position, Kuroda held opponents to a .194 (30-for-155) batting average, the fifth-best mark in the National League. He was also fifth in the NL in road ERA, posting a 7-7 record and a 2.85 ERA (94.2 IP, 30 ER) in 15 starts away from Dodger Stadium.
"I feel happy to be a part of such a storied franchise, which is always in contention for a World Series," Kuroda said. "I am also very proud to be a part of this current team, which boasts so many great players. As a member of the Yankees, I would like to do my part by doing the best I can throughout the season. I hope that I can make a difference in achieving the team's ultimate goal, which is to win the World Series."
A native of Osaka, Japan, Kuroda has gone 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in 115 career appearances (114 starts) over four Major League seasons with the Dodgers from 2008-11. He has made at least 30 starts and tossed more than 180.0 innings in three of his Major League campaigns (all but his injury-shortened season in 2009). Since the start of the 2008 season, the right-hander has averaged 2.10 walks per 9.0 IP, the third-lowest mark by a National Leaguer with at least 500.0 IP over the span, trailing only Dan Haren (1.64) and Ricky Nolasco (1.93).
Among all Japan-born pitchers ever to play in the Major Leagues, his 3.45 career ERA is the lowest all-time among pitchers who have made more than 12 career starts, while his 523 strikeouts rank fourth and his 41 wins are fifth. In 2011, he recorded the third-lowest single-season ERA (3.07) among Japanese-born pitchers to qualify for a Major League ERA title, behind only Hideo Nomo (2.54 in 1995) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.90 in 2008).
Originally signed by the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent on December 18, 2007, Kuroda spent 11 seasons (1997-2007) pitching for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League. In 271 appearances (244 starts) for the Carp, he went 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA (1,700.1 IP, 697 ER).
In a corresponding move, the Yankees designated RHP Kevin Whelan for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.