The Yankees are expected to attempt to re-sign starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda this offseason and should have ample funds to get the contract done.
But they’re going to have some competition.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in this week’s Sunday notes column that Kuroda “may be the most sought-after pitcher in terms of number of teams interested” because he only wants a one-year deal so that he can return to his native Japan after the 2013 season if he so desires. Cafardo says the deep-pocketed Dodgers “would love to have him back” and that the Red Sox “have a shot” because other Japanese pitchers have enjoyed the city of Boston.
Kuroda, 37, posted a 3.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 167/51 K/BB ratio in 219 2/3 innings this season for New York. He has a 3.42 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 918-plus total frames since arriving state-side in 2008.
The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.
Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field. He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.
Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.