Hiroki Kuroda said he didn’t have to listen to any other offers. He was told the Dodgers wanted him back. That was all he had to know to decide where he would play next season.
Kuroda re-signed with the Dodgers on Monday evening, passing a physical to make official a one-year, $12-million deal.
“The fact that they felt they needed me made me happy,” said Kuroda, who completed a three-year, $35.3-million contract this year.
Kuroda said other major league clubs informed him of their interest in him, but that he agreed to a deal with the Dodgers before any of them made an offer. The Japanese right-hander, who was 11-13 with a 3.39 earned-run average, was widely considered the second-best starting pitcher on the free-agent market behind Cliff Lee.
Kuroda became the second starting pitcher to re-sign this off-season with the Dodgers, who reached an agreement on a back-loaded three-year, $33-million deal with left-hander Ted Lilly last month.
Kuroda’s deal will pay him a base salary of $8 million next year and includes a $4-million signing bonus that will be paid out over the next two years.
The idea of one-year deal was that of Kuroda, who presumably wants to leave open the option of returning to Japan in 2012 to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp.
“I wanted to go year by year,” Kuroda said. “That’s the way it’s done in Japan. I want to give my all next season and think about my future after that.”
The Dodgers had similar ideas.
“Our appetite was for one year as well,” General Manager Ned Colletti said.
Kuroda, who turns 36 in February, contemplated playing in Japan. He said he received offers from multiple clubs in Japan, but that his improved form in 2010 made him want to remain in the majors for at least one more year.
“Being able to pitch the entire year without getting hurt gave me a lot of confidence,” said Kuroda, who had spent considerable time on the disabled list in his first two seasons with the Dodgers.
The returns of Kuroda and Lilly give the Dodgers four established starters, the others being Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
Asked whether Kuroda would be the Dodgers’ last major acquisition this winter, Colletti was curt.
“We have financial flexibility,” Colletti said without providing any details.