M's likely to pursue Japanese hurler with Seattle ties
Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda filed for free agency in Hiroshima on Monday, and the Mariners are likely to be among those in pursuit of...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda filed for free agency in Hiroshima on Monday, and the Mariners are likely to be among those in pursuit of the 32-year-old right-hander.
Kuroda will be represented by Joe Urbon, the Seattle-based agent whose clients include several ballplayers from the Northwest, such as Grady Sizemore and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Urbon also represented Japanese pitchers Kazuhisa Ishii and Shingo Takatsu, who left Japan for the major leagues.
Urbon is assisted by former Mariners pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who has a close relationship with Kuroda.
"Certainly, this guy [Kuroda] fits in well at the front of their [the Mariners'] rotation, but you can say that for a dozen other clubs," Urbon said. "I think right now, it's way too early to tell if anybody has the inside track. We haven't even gone that far."
Kuroda has the option of returning to his Japanese team, the Hiroshima Carp, but he has indicated a desire to try out the major leagues.
As a pure free agent, unhindered by the posting system that last year required the Red Sox to pay $51 million for the negotiating rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kuroda figures to be a coveted commodity.
That's especially true considering the relatively mediocre field of free-agent pitchers. The Mariners were believed to have strong interest in Kuroda last winter, when he contemplated pursuing free agency. However, Kuroda ultimately signed a four-year, $10 million contract to return to Hiroshima.
That deal included an out clause allowing Kuroda to become a free agent this winter. He formalized his free agency Monday by filing the necessary documents at the Carp office, according to the Kyodo News Service.
Though Urbon is positioning Kuroda as a No. 1 or 2 starter, he is generally regarded by scouts as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher.
Kuroda, who throws a fastball in the mid-90s, was 12-8 with a 3.56 earned-run average last season for Hiroshima. He led the Central League with 15 victories in 2005 and won the ERA title (1.85) in 2006.
Kuroda has a lifetime 103-89 record with a 3.69 ERA in 11 seasons, all with Hiroshima. He is a workhorse, with 74 complete games in 244 career starts.
• With Larry Bowa joining Joe Torre's coaching staff with the Dodgers, Sam Perlozzo has re-emerged as a candidate to be the Mariners' third-base coach.
• The Gold Glove awards will be announced today. Ichiro is a strong candidate to win his seventh, while third baseman Adrian Beltre and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt have a chance for their first.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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