From the time Hiroki Kuroda landed in Los Angeles in 2008, he has been solid. He hasn’t been spectacular, but solid. In 2011, he has stood out more than any other year, pitching to a 3.06 ERA as the All-Star break, despite being 6-10.
His career with the Dodgers has seen more tough luck than good, going 34- 40 over the last three and a half seasons despite a 3.50 ERA. His strike out to walk ratio is 3:1, and he’s going to give you six innings a start.
Oh ya, and here’s the rub… He’s making almost $6 million dollars the rest of the season for a team that has no money, and is going nowhere. I think it’s safe to say we have seen the last of Hiroki Kuroda and that he will be traded by the July 31 trade deadline. Since June, Kuroda has been great, and despite giving up four earned in his last start against the Mets, he has an ERA of 2.32.
It just makes sense. Kuroda has a lot to offer a contender. Which contender’s make sense as far as a fit goes?
Red Sox: With Daisuke Matsuzaka out for the year, with Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester on the shelf and with John Lackey being terrible, the Sox could use Kuroda. And it would be a market he would feel comfortable in, and would be more inclined to waive his no trade clause. Boston has a decent amount of talent in their farm system, but would be reluctant to subtract from the Major League roster.
Indians: If the Indians think they are going to be there in the end in the AL Central, and there is no reason to believe they won’t be, they might be looking to upgrade in the rotation. With Fausto Carmona ailing and with the inexperience and at times ineffectiveness of guys like Mitch Talbot, Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin, Cleveland could use a steady veteran.
Tigers: With Phil Coke as the fifth starter most of the time, and with him being inconsistent, the Tigers would upgrade immensely with Kuroda.
Rangers: Not to compare Kuroda to Cliff Lee, but the Rangers made a move last year at the deadline to get a very good arm and might be looking to do so again. Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison are young and inconsistent, Alexi Ogando won’t pitch as much in the second half and Texas hasn’t separated itself in the AL West as expected.
Angels: The Angels seem pretty set in the rotation, but might not want to rely on Tyler Chatwood down the stretch. With Anaheim being in the race right now, an upgrade can only help.
Pirates: Yep, the Pirates are a contender. All five of their starting pitchers are decent, but not special. Kuroda becomes the best pitcher on that staff the moment he gets there.
Reds: Cincinnati has pitching issues with Edinson Volquez not being able to put it together and everyone not named Johnny Cueto being up and down. The Reds are a prime candidate for Kuroda.
Diamondbacks: Arizona is legitimately in the NL West race right now and Kuroda is an upgrade over Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter and Zach Duke.
Rockies: Not really a contender right now, but don’t tell them that. Colorado has been known to come alive in the second half, and the Rox have serious starting pitching issues.
The Dodgers should not sell low on Kuroda, even though moving him really helps. He can bring back some solid pieces in the form of prospects, and with the lack of starting pitching available at the trade deadline, his value is quite high.