Kuroda's 2011 just about mirrored his 2010 season. Last year he was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA, which was 9th in the NL. He had 161 strikeouts in 202 innings pitched. 2010 saw him go 11-13 with a 3.39 ERA, 159 Ks in 196 1/3 IP. His record over the past two seasons could have been better on a better team, though the Dodgers finished over .500 in 2011. Though Kuroda is about to turn 37, there is still demand as several teams think he can fill a spot in the middle of their rotation. Here's the most likely places he will pitch in 2012.
5. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies have had interest all offseason in landing a starter. They insist they are not rebuilding; they feel they were "overwhelmed" with the Ubaldo Jiminez trade. The team has been linked to pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Jonathon Niese and FA RHP Edwin Jackson. The Rockies could see Kuroda as one who could mentor Drew Pomeranz and some of the other young pitchers similar to the way he did to Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley in LA. The Rockies will not overpay though.
4. Texas Rangers/ Seattle Mariners: Two longshots without a doubt. The Rangers become possible if the deal for RHP Yu Darvish falls through. Kuroda fits the build for the starter Texas would be after. Seattle is interesting, though unlikely. Seattle has a strong Japanese market and has had a history for adding several Japanese players. Kuroda would strengthen their rotation and make them competitive in a top heavy AL West.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: It seems like every free agent may have a chance to sign with the Blue Jays. They have been aggressive, to no avail. I likely see them adding Edwin Jackson but Kuroda is a possibility, especially if Jackson signs elsewhere. I don't think Toronto minds paying Kuroda close to what he is looking for, as long as its for one season. He can mentor the young arms and give the Blue Jays a chance to compete in the AL East.
2. New York Yankees: If you have read my previous posts, you know I still think the Yankees will add Roy Oswalt. I have been wrong before and Kuroda would provide a similar purpose to what Oswalt can do. A one year contract would give the Yankees the flexibility to commit long-term to a starter for 2013. Also, similar to Oswalt, he has a chance to put up very good numbers and market himself as a free agent after the season. (Playing for the Yankees should help most good starting pitchers being they win 95+ games a year.)
1. Boston Red Sox: Similarly to the way I have Jackson going to Toronto and Oswalt going to the Yankees, I have Kuroda ending up in Boston. I think Boston will commit the extra year Kuroda is looking for even if its for a little less annual value. They wanted Gio Gonzalez, as they were floating a higher weighted package to what they sent to get Andrew Bailey. He may be able to relate well with manager Bobby Valentine, who has experience managing Japanese players. He also sits comfortably in the 4th spot in the rotation behind Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz. He has a good chance of shining there.