Red Sox, Dodgers interested in Hiroki Kuroda
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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The Yankees have some unexpected competition for Hiroki Kuroda.
The pitcher, expected to officially reject the Yankees' $13.3 million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. Friday, has several teams interested besides the Yankees, including the Red Sox and Dodgers, according to a source.
Although the belief in the industry has been that the 37-year-old would pitch for the Yankees next season or back home in his native Japan, the source said Kuroda was "open" to listening to other MLB teams.
That Kuroda, who went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA last season, would consider other options shouldn't surprise anyone. Last offseason, for example, the speculation surrounding the righthander had him pitching either for the Dodgers or back in Japan.
He signed a one-year, $10-million deal with the Yankees.
The Yankees likely will have to pay well above that -- and the $13.3 million qualifying offer -- to keep him. That's provided, of course, Kuroda chooses to continue his career in the U.S.
For Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, the rest of the offseason will become clearer by 5 p.m. today, the deadline for free agents to accept or decline the qualifying offers.
"I don't anticipate many players accepting single-year contracts that are in that arena," said Scott Boras, who represents Soriano.
Soriano, who opted out of his three-year, $35-million contract, is looking for closer's money and a multi-year deal. If he doesn't get it, the Yankees would be willing to discuss a two-year deal, though Boras didn't sound like an agent thinking small -- not that he ever does.
"You could put Soriano on three or four teams, and if he was on that team and was exactly the same , he would have put those teams in the playoffs," Boras said. "If you looked at the Angels or the Dodgers or the White Sox, Milwaukee, those teams would have been in the playoffs if they had a closer that had the efficiency rating of Soriano."
And even though Mariano Rivera announced he'll pitch next season, Boras still made a pitch for the Yankees to keep his client. "You'd have to say that was a really good business decision for the Yankees two years ago," Boras said of signing Soriano. "It certainly would be a wiser decision [now] when Rivera's older and coming off an injury."
Cashman didn't rule out the possibility of carrying both, but the intent to get the payroll to $189 million by 2014 makes that unlikely. "This is about good business decisions, this is about fans coming to your ballpark, it's about you being in the playoffs annually," Boras said of the Yankees attempt to cut payroll.
Cashman said that can be done without profligate spending. "There's always a lot of different ways to skin the cat," Cashman said.
Notes & quotes:A source with knowledge of the team's thinking said the Yankees, who will be in the market for a rightfielder if Swisher signs elsewhere, are unlikely to make a push for the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton . . . Boras represents Robinson Cano, who has one year left on his contract. In July, Cashman raised the possibility of extending the second baseman this offseason and Boras said he's spoken with team president Randy Levine and Cashman recently. "I talked with Randy a few times this week, talked to Cash," Boras said. But indications are the Yankees no longer are interested in doing an extension this offseason and will instead deal with the matter next offseason.