UPDATE: Dodgers close to re-signing Hiroki Kuroda

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UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com also hears that the Dodgers are close to keeping Kuroda for one year at $12 million.

12:27 AM: Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker originally stated that 1 billon yen works out to $8 million, which looked like an awesome deal for the Dodgers. Turns out the exchange rate was incorrect.

It’s actually $12 million, which makes far more sense, given that Kuroda made $13 million this past season.

Don’t get all over Newman for this error, though. He’s truly one of the best around. If you must, direct your anger towards baseball writers like myself who are too lazy to double-check exchange rates.

10:46 PM: For what it’s worth, a Dodgers’ source told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that the Sanspo report is “inaccurate.” When asked if a deal was close, the source said “hard to tell.”

Another Hot Stove rumor squashed? Stay tuned.

8:56 PM: Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report from Sanspo that Hiroki Kuroda is close to staying with the Dodgers on a one-year contract for approximately $8 million. We went over Kuroda’s impressive stats from this past season a bit earlier, so if true, this would be a tremendous bargain for the Dodgers.

6:06 PM: Big, but not entirely surprising news on the free agent front. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times passes along a report from Japanese sports daily Sports Nippon that Hiroki Kuroda plans to pitch in the majors for another year.

Kuroda, who turns 36 in February, was reportedly considering a return to Japan after finishing his three-year, $35.3 million contract with the Dodgers, but it makes plenty of sense (and dollars) to stick around. The right-hander went 11-13 with a 3.39 ERA and 158 /48 K/BB ratio over 31 starts this past season, his most successful since arriving stateside in 2008. Our own Matthew Pouliot has him ranked as the No. 10 free agent this winter.

According to Hernandez, the Nippon report states that Kuroda would prefer to stay with the Dodgers, but it’s not known if they will be able to afford him. Remember, they already re-signed veteran left-hander Ted Lilly to a three-year, $33 million contract. I’m skeptical that Kuroda will actually pass up another multi-year contract at this point in his career, but if he truly intends to pitch in the United States for only one more season, it will add a pretty interesting dynamic to his list of potential suitors. If anything, it should only increase the number of teams in the mix.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.