The Yankees are expected to make qualifying offers to both Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda by the end of the day tomorrow. While the motivation with Swisher is to secure draft pick compensation, the Bombers are hoping Kuroda will accept and stick around for another season. They might get their wish.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Kuroda is amenable to a one-year contract. The 37-year-old right-hander wouldn’t have much problem landing a multi-year deal under normal circumstances, but he wants to eventually return to Japan and have something left in the tank when he does it.
Kuroda mulled returning to Japan last offseason before he signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Yankees. The qualifying offer is worth $13.3 million, so the salary increase could be enough to pique Kuroda’s interest or at least get the ball rolling on a new contract.
Kuroda was unaffected by the switch to the American League this season, posting a 3.32 ERA and 167/51 K/BB ratio over 219 2/3 innings. He has a 3.42 ERA in five seasons stateside. Only 12 pitchers (with at least 800 innings pitched) have a lower ERA during the same timespan.
Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN when the defending World Series champion Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox on opening day.
Clemens made four appearances on last year’s KayRod Cast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. He will be stepping in on March 30 for David Cone, who will be doing the New York Yankees opener against the San Francisco Giants on YES Network.
“Roger has been sort of a friend of ours for the last year, so to speak, he’s in. He’s been engaged, knowledgeable and really present,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Phil Orlins. “You know, whatever past may be, he’s still tremendously engaged and he really brought that every time he was with us.”
Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner but his career after baseball has been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. He is a Houston native and pitched for the Astros for three seasons.
Orlins said that with the rules changes and pitch clock, it is important to have a pitcher in the booth with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.
“We don’t feel like we have to have the dynamic of Eduardo with a pitcher, but we certainly think that works. Throw in the added factor of rule changes and it is better to have a batter-pitcher perspective,” Orlins said.
Orlins did not say if this would open the door for future opportunities for Clemens as an ESPN analyst.