Hiroki Kuroda will remain a Yankee for at least another a season. The two sides have agreed to a one-year $16 million contract, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman. The deal also includes $500K in performance bonuses.
The Yankees have seen almost identical returns on their one-year investments in Kuroda over the last two seasons. In 2012, he put up a 3.32 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 219.2 innings. Last year was a mirror image of his solid debut -- 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 201.1 innings. That kind of consistency hasn't been matched by CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, or Ivan Nova -- the other mainstays in the rotation over that time.
Bringing back Kuroda certainly helps the Yankees, but simply re-signing him won't be enough to give them a pitching staff that can compete in the AL East. Phil Hughes is now with the Twins on a three-year, $24 million deal, and Andy Pettite retired... again. So the Yanks have a little more work to in bolstering their rotation. Kuroda is an excellent start, but there is some uncertainty surrounding the back half with Michael Pineda returning from injury to make his first-ever appearance with New York after he was acquired two years ago, and the fifth spot in the sequence remains largely unspoken for.
CC Sabathia struggled in 2013, posting an 85 ERA+ after a seven-year run with a cumulative 140 ERA+, so Kuroda might need to be the Yankees ace, should that not reverse itself entirely. The fear was that Kuroda would retire or head back to Japan, leaving the Yankees desperate for a guaranteed force atop the rotation.
In light of the Yankees losing Robinson Cano to the Mariners, this signing could mean even more to New York's chances at remaining competitive in 2014, as the pitching needs to excel if the offense cannot. Granted, acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Kelly Johnson should more than offset the loss of Cano, especially considering the players the first two are replacing.