Rotation Options: Hiroki Kuroda

MLBTR predicts Kuroda to the Pirates.

MLBTR released their top 50 free agents for the 2010/2011 off-season, which always includes predictions as to where the players will go.  Those predictions are mostly based on team needs, and more or less are educated guesses, with most of them not even being based on rumors.  I add that disclaimer because the number 11 ranked free agent, Hiroki Kuroda, is listed as going to the Pirates.  Again, it’s just a guess, and doesn’t mean the Pirates are even pursuing Kuroda, but it provides a perfect opportunity to review how Kuroda could help the rotation.

MLBTR looked at Kuroda’s free agent stock, and predicted that he could get a deal like Randy Wolf received last year, which was a 3 year/$29.75 M deal.  However, they suggest Kuroda could be had by a team willing to give him two years in their top 50 rankings.  Either way, it seems that Kuroda will likely cost around $10 M a year, which is down from his 3 year/$35.3 M contract he had with the Dodgers.

Kuroda ranks high on my personal rankings, falling behind Cliff Lee, Jorge de la Rosa, and Javier Vazquez.  In the last three years he has combined for a 3.60 ERA in 497 innings, with a 6.6 K/9, a 2.1 BB/9, and a 0.7 HR/9 ratio.  He has dealt with some injury issues, highlighted by an oblique strain that limited him to 117.1 innings in 2009.  However, he made 31 starts in each of the 2008 and 2010 seasons, so he’s not an injury risk like a Rich Harden or Erik Bedard.

Kuroda keeps his walk rate low, and gets a good amount of strikeouts.  He’s also a ground ball pitcher, with a career 50.8% ground ball ratio, including a 51.1% ratio in 2010.  He would definitely be an upgrade to the Pirates’ rotation, and based on 2010 performance, would be the number two starter in the rotation, behind James McDonald.  The one concern with him is age.  He will be 36 years old next year, and prior to pitching 497 innings in the last three years, he pitched 1700 innings in Japan.

Kuroda would be an upgrade to the rotation, but there’s no guarantee he doesn’t see a decline over the next 2-3 years.  The Pirates may not need him for that entire time frame, as they have options like Rudy Owens, Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson, and Brad Lincoln in the minors, as Ross Ohlendorf and James McDonald in the rotation for the next several years.  An ideal contract for Kuroda would be a two year deal with an option for 2013, which works to provide security, should the Pirates still have a pitching need after the 2012 season, and minimizes the chance that Kuroda sees a drop in production due to his age and career workload.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Pirates Interested in Adrian Beltre

Next Story »

Pirates Re-Sign Justin Thomas

Latest Analysis

  • Keller Supak Hinsz

    Even With the New Draft Rules, the Pirates Are Still Loading Up on Projectable Pitchers

    1 day ago

    From 2008-2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates spent a lot of resources on projectable pitchers out of high school. So far, this approach has led to breakout performances from ...

    Read More
  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    3 days ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    5 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    7 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    1 week ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More