Morosi: Red Sox Have "Reached Out" To Hiroki Kuroda

Alex Trautwig

Boston couldn't sign him last off-season, but this time around, there is room in the budget

You wanted him last winter, and he's a free agent again. For the second off-season in a row, the Red Sox are trying to get Hiroki Kuroda on board:

Rob Bradford of WEEI follows up this information by saying the Red Sox are reported to have "strong interest" in the right-hander.

The existence of Kuroda is why Anibal Sanchez is only arguably the second-best pitcher on the free agent market. Kuroda, looking for a short-term contract, with his track record, might be the very best buy of the entire winter for whoever gets him. This was a possibility last off-season, too, but now he has a season of success in the tough AL East to further strengthen his credibility as a difference maker in the rotation.

Last winter, the Red Sox didn't have the room in their budget to get Kuroda to sign. This time around, there's no such excuse. The problem is going to be getting him to leave New York, as Kuroda has already pulled his "team I last played with or I go back to Japan" card. Boston will likely try hard to sign him, though, as the rotation could use him.

Kuroda has averaged 206 innings, 32 starts, and a 120 ERA+ over the last three seasons. He's struck out well over three times as many batters as he walked in that stretch, thanks to excellent (and consistent) control and command. Should Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Felix Doubront not perform to the level needed from them, Kuroda would be an excellent pitcher to have around. Should the starters already on board pitch well, and Kuroda is in town, then Boston's lineup won't have to look like it used to in order for the team to do well.

Convincing him to come here will be the major barrier, though, and the Yankees will receive a compensation pick should he sign elsewhere. For Boston, that's just their second-round selection, since the first-round pick is protected. For some players on the free agent market, the draft pick might dissuade signing them. Kuroda, though, is on the short list of players it'll be worth it for.

[Optimistic Update, 4:45 PM]

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