By C. Trent Rosecrans
Hiroki Kuroda ranked fourth on the CBSSports.com ranking of free agent starting pitchers -- and that was before CC Sabathia signed his extension. So needless to say, the former Dodgers right-hander is among the most sought-after free agents on the market.
While the Dodgers were thought to be a shoe-in to re-sign Kuroda, there have been reports that more teams, including the Yankees, could tempt him. Add another team to the mix -- the Hiroshima Carp. Kuroda, 36, pitched 11 years for the Carp before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent on Dec. 16, 2007.
According to Nikkan Sports in Japan (via NPB tracker), the Carp have made an official offer to Kuroda, 37.
"I'm happy that they would evaluate my contributions like that," Kuroda said, according to NPB Tracker. "Naturally, I'm happy. A feeling that they really want to win across. (Hiroshima's competitiveness this season) has come to a frustrating place, to a place where they are one step away. … I'm very happy I got an offer from the Carp."
Kuroda is 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers, including a 13-16 record with a 3.07 ERA in 2011. He was 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in Japan, winning the Central League with a 1.85 ERA in 2006.
The Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck writes that he expects Kuroda's decision to come down the Dodgers and Carp -- and for the Dodgers, that decision needs to be made relatively soon.
Kuroda isn't the only Japanese player from the major leagues that is gaining attention in his home country. NPB Tracker also notes Kei Igawa is garnering interest from Rakuten and Orix.
Meanwhile, Seibu shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima and Yakult center fielder Norichika Aoki have asked to be posted. Nikkan Sports reports the Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Orioles may be interested in Nakajima.
Meanwhile, Chunichi left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is unsure whether he wants to move to the United States, according to the Chunichi Shimbun (also via NPB Tracker). Chen, 26, would be a free agent and not subject to the posting system. A native of Taiwan, Chen went 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA for the Dragons this season. He led the Central League with a 1.54 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 2009.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.