Good Luck in the Bronx, Hiroki

As you’ve probably seen just about everywhere on the planet by now, the Yankees have had a helluva night, signing former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda – as I sort of predicted days ago by pointing out that his translator had already joined the Yankees – and shockingly trading Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to Seattle for Michael Pineda and a prospect. (As a sidenote, it’s amazing to see what a young catcher who can hit gets in trade, isn’t it? Blargh.)

I imagine that a lot of Dodger fans are pretty upset that Kuroda left for an East Coast team after refusing a trade in July, particularly when the $10m deal he’s reportedly accepted is less than the $12m he made with the Dodgers last year. If you’d have told me this was going to be the outcome in July when he wouldn’t accept the trade, I’d probably have been all fire and brimstone about it. Now, I’m not so sure about that, because I feel like we don’t know exactly why Kuroda’s return didn’t work out; despite appearances, I’m not convinced it’s as simple as “Kuroda didn’t want to leave in July, but he had no problem doing so now.”

Think about it; over the last two offseasons, Ned Colletti has shown a clear preference to do as much of his free-agent shopping as soon as he possibly can. (As prices start to drop, by the way, this is only going to make some of the deals we’ve seen look worse, a situation I’ll look at more closely in a few weeks.) Conversely, we don’t know how long it took Kuroda to decide whether he wanted to stay in America or return to Japan. Reports only surfaced over the last few days that Kuroda wanted to play in MLB in 2012 for sure, and by that time, the Dodger rotation was long since filled – despite reports that Colletti was reportedly in contact with Kuroda’s agent as recently as last week. It could very well have been merely an issue of timing, not an issue of “loyalty”, and I’m guessing we’ll never know.

So best of luck in New York, Hiroki. It’ll be fascinating to see you on the big stage.

In the meantime, here’s some various combinations of 2012 Dodgers that will add up to $10m:

Juan Uribe ($8m) + Matt Treanor ($0.85m) + Adam Kennedy ($0.8m) + Mike MacDougal ($0.65m) = $10.3m

Juan Rivera ($4m) + Aaron Harang ($3m) + Mark Ellis ($2.5m) + Tony Gwynn ($0.85m) = $10.35m

Matt Guerrier ($4.75m) + Chris Capuano ($3m) + Jerry Hairston ($2.25m) = $10m

That doesn’t take into account, of course, that many of those are the lower-priced first year of a two-year deal which will increase in 2013.

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