Kuroda signing stabilizes Yankees’ winter

So far, the biggest theme of the Yankees’ offseason has been what they won’t be doing. Making multi-year offers to Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano. Signing Torii Hunter. Pursuing the top free agent starting pitchers on the market. Making very many multi-year offers of any kind, and so on. With the re-signing of Hiroki Kuroda, on the other hand,  the Yankees have provided some reassurances that they will, in fact, maintain a solid core of talent in 2013, even as austerity nibbles away at the margins of their roster.

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Somewhat amusingly, this is the second straight year in which the Yankees have re-signed a starting pitcher just prior to Thanksgiving, though I dare say Yankee fans are much happier to have Kuroda returning than they were at the prospect of another go-around with Freddy Garcia last year. Thanks to injuries, Kuroda emerged as the Yankees’ most durable, and perhaps most reliable starting pitcher, in 2012 silencing those who doubted his ability to pitch in the A.L. East while setting a career high in innings pitched. He also became something of a fan favorite, at least within my own circle of reference, and I get the sense that just about everyone was dreading the thought of him not returning for a second season in pinstripes, for reasons both on-field and off.

The upshot of this deal is that the Yankees have shored up their rotation picture with just one move. Without Kuroda and Andy Pettitte in the mix, the Yankees’ projected rotation looked pretty bleak, with Phil Hughes slotted in as the second starter and no clear fifth starter behind David Phelps and Ivan Nova. Between that reality and a thin market for starting pitching in which the Yankees weer total non-players for the top talents other than Kuroda, it’s not at all hard to see why they made re-signing their own star their top offseason priority, and with that squared away the picture going forward is dramatically different. Even without factoring Pettitte in, the Yankees’ rotation now projects as at least respectable, with Kuroda and Sabathia at the top with Hughes, Phelps, and Nova hopefully providing quality back-end caliber production behind them. Put Pettitte in to the mix as well, and you have a championship caliber rotation for day one, with an outside chance of having two of those three back-enders bumped if Michael Pineda can return and be effective.

So that’s where things stand today: with the lynchpin of the team’s winter plans under the belt. There’s still plenty to do, of course. Brian Cashman now needs to figure out who his starting catcher and right fielder will be when Opening Day rolls around, plus work out a contract with Mariano Rivera, but (at least assuming that the latter is a given on a certain level) retaining Kuroda was by far the most important task at hand this winter, and for as much as our focus has been on payroll cuts and all of the players the Yankees won’t be after anytime soon, for now they’re still able to get their #Hirok.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

21 thoughts on “Kuroda signing stabilizes Yankees’ winter

  1. Do you guys think this impacts Pettite’s decision in any way? I can’t imagine a scenario where he would be impacted but maybe he really liked/disliked Kuroda? Wanted to be the guy who came back to save the team this year? Is there any insight into the decision making for him and if this will impact that at all?

  2. I think what MOST impacts Andy is the Yankees chances of Winning,
    The better the team looks, the more he will want to play,
    So signing Hiroki is probably a move that favors Andy resigning

  3. "Austerity" and the "Yankees" in the same sentence seems rather odd. They will still have one of, the highest salaried teams in all of Baseball so how does 'austerity' fit into this conversation? During the height of the depression, the Vanderbilts spent approximately $50,000 a week on their gardens, 'Yankees austerity' meant they only spent $40,00 per week…….

  4. Glad to see this happen. If we can get a solid rotation we've seen that there are some aging but relatively solid bats to be bought out there.

  5. Like I said on a different topic here. A Yankees rotation of: a healthy CC, Kuroda, a Pettitte that can give the Yankees about 150 innings, a rejuvenated Hughes and a little bounce back from Nova along with a few spot starts from Phelps has the ability as a starting rotation to account for 80 wins. Versus the 71 they accounted for last year.

  6. The key to this being a dominant rotation and just a good one is Phil Hughes. If he can show even modest improvement from last year, he would be an excellent number 4, if Pettitte returns and is as solid as he was last year. And Nova certainly has the talent to be the pitcher he was in 2011. This is good news. Now just get Martin under contract and tidy up the lineup a bit.

  7. I would like some of your thoughts on a "reclamation project" for a pitcher that might be of interest at least in my mind for the Yankees. As we all know you can never have enough pitching and that has been particularly true for the Yankees when it comes to injuries of late. Obviously they will NOT be in the market this year for a high priced/long term starter. So assuming the starting rotation is: CC, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Nova with Phelps as the spot starter they will need a "reclamation project" cheap and very short term. How does the name Roberto Hernandez (previously known as: Fausto Carmona). He certainly would be cheap, probably very cheap and very short term. And if Pineda does come back around the All Star break the Yankees can release Hernandez with minimal to no cost. Any thoughts from anyone?