Free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda declared his intention to leave his native Japan to play in the major leagues next season.
The 32-year old right-hander is a target of the Dodgers, who sent a three-man delegation that included closer Takashi Saito to meet him in Tokyo last week. The Hiroshima Carp, the team for which he was 103-89 with a 3.69 earned-run average over eight seasons, said it would leave his No. 15 jersey open for him if he ever wanted to play again in Japan.
A tearful Kuroda was quoted in several Japanese news reports as saying at a news conference in Hiroshima, “I made the decision because I wanted to go one step forward as a baseball player. I would’ve been fine finishing my career with the Carp, but my feelings of wanting to challenge myself in a different kind of baseball grew stronger.”
The Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals are also reportedly in pursuit of Kuroda.
-- Dylan Hernandez