Notes From Japan: Kuroda & Nakajima

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but Patrick Newman of NBP Tracker (via MLBtraderumors) shares the news that Hiroki Kuroda has recieved an offer from the Hiroshima Carp to return to Japan and play for them in 2012. This isn’t really breaking news, because it’s long been assumed that Kuroda would only play for the Dodgers or the Carp, and whenever he does leave Los Angeles it’s likely that he’ll want to play at least one farewell season for his old club.

As translated by Newman, Kuroda had this to say about the offer:

 “I’m happy that they would evaluate my contributions like that. Naturally, I’m happy. A feeling that they really want to win came across. (Hiroshima’s competitiveness this season) has come to a frustrating place, to a place where they are one step away… I’m very happy I got an offer from the Carp.”

Still, I wouldn’t read too much into this. If we know anything about Kuroda, it’s that he’s forever going to be polite in the media, and there was no way he would say anything other than positive things about his former, and possibly future, team. I still have a 70/30 gut feeling that he’ll return for another year with the Dodgers, particularly with what we learned when he refused to waive his no-trade clause in July. Nor should it be a surprise that the Carp put forth an offer, because why wouldn’t they want him back? So I suppose what I’m trying to say is, “this isn’t really hot news, yet we’re talking about it anyway because it’s November 8 and it’s something that’s happening.”

Also of note in Newman’s report is this:

Like last year, Seibu shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will again ask his management to send him to MLB via the posting system this offseason. This year, Seibu is expected to grant his wish. Nikkan Sports keeps mentioning the Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Orioles as possibly interested teams, but it’s not clear where that information is coming from.

I’m guessing that the Dodgers come up any time a Japanese player considers America, simply because of geography and history, so it’s not clear that there’s actually any interest there – or that Nakajima will even actually be posted. In August of 2010, Newman referred to Nakajima as “Japan’s second best hitter”, yet the .297/.354/.433 he put up in 2011 was by far the worst year of his career. The Dodgers don’t need a shortstop, though you’d expect he could handle second base; on the other hand, Minnesota’s high-profile import of Tsuyoshi Nishioka to do just that this past year couldn’t have gone worse.