Yankees sigh RHP Hiroki Kuroda

The New York Yankees today announced they have signed right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year Major League contract.


Kuroda, 37, went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA (219.2IP, 81ER) in 33 starts in his debut season with the Yankees in 2012, establishing career bests in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts (167).  Among American League pitchers, he ranked fourth in innings pitched, tied for sixth in wins and finished eighth in ERA.  After beginning the season with a 3-6 record and 4.56 ERA (53.1IP, 27ER) in his first nine starts, he went 13-5 with a 2.92 ERA (166.1IP, 54ER) over his final 24 starts beginning on May 27.


“I am very happy and excited to re-sign with the Yankees,” said Kuroda.  “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.”


Prior to 2012, Kuroda spent his previous four seasons with Los Angeles-NL (2008-11), going 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA (699.0IP, 268ER) in 115 games (114 starts).  Among pitchers who changed leagues during the 2011-12 offseason, he was tied with Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett for the second-most wins in the Majors in 2012 behind only Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (21).


A native of Osaka, Japan, he became the fourth Japan-born player and third such pitcher to appear in a Major League game for the Yankees, joining outfielder Hideki Matsui (2003-09), left-handed pitcher Kei Igawa (2007-08) and right-handed pitcher Hideki Irabu (1997-99).  Since Kuroda’s Yankees debut, right-handed pitcher Ryota Igarashi (2012) and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (2012) have also played for the club.


Over his five Major League seasons, Kuroda has gone 57-57 with a 3.42 ERA (918.2IP, 349ER) in 148 career appearances (147 starts).  He has made at least 30 starts and tossed more than 180.0 innings in four of his Major League campaigns (all but his injury-shortened season in 2009).  In each of the past three seasons, the right-hander has increased his win totals (11, 13, 16) while making an increasing number of starts (31, 32, 33).


Among all Japan-born pitchers ever to play in the Major Leagues, his 3.42 career ERA is the lowest all-time among pitchers who have made 20-or-more career starts or pitched at least 350.0 innings, while his 57 wins and 690 strikeouts trail only Hideo Nomo’s career totals of 123 wins and 1,918 strikeouts.


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 (1,700.1IP, 697ER).