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.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.