New York or Japan for Hiroki Kuroda


That’s the feeling’s Ken Rosenthal is getting from talking with executives around the league. Although reports have suggested that free agent Hiroki Kuroda could return to SoCal with the Dodgers or maybe even the Angels, Rosenthal says indications are that Kuroda will remain with the Yankees or head home to Japan.

Kuroda, who was content to sign one-year deals in his first two goes at free agency, may prefer a two-year deal this time. Even though he’ll pitch next season at 38, Kuroda seems like a good investment for two years. He’s averaged over 200 innings the last three years, and his ERAs have ranged from 3.07 to 3.39 during the stretch.

Kuroda won a career-high 16 games last season, his first in New York. If the Yankees can keep him for $30 million for two years, he’ll still look like a bargain compared to the likely $22 million-$25 million per year that Zack Greinke figures to get.

Mariners sign Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal

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The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.

This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.

The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.