The Yankees are still seen as the likely favorite to sign star right-hander Hiroki Kuroda provided he stays in the States, two rival executives suggested Tuesday.
The executive were speaking in the days after a couple reports suggested the Los Angeles teams had the inside track due to a family situation. Those reports mentioned young children he had enrolled in Southern California schools.
Kuroda is said to have enjoyed his initial season in the Bronx. The Yankees, in talks with Kuroda, do sense a threat from Japan, as Kuroda is said to have promised his friends and family he'd pitch his final season in his homeland.
The Dodgers, Angels and Red Sox have all expressed interest in the pitcher who formerly starred in L.A. with the Dodgers. Since he turned down the Yankees' $13.3-million qualifying offer, any of those teams would have to surrender a draft choice if they sign him, a slight disincentive for those teams.
The Dodgers seem focused on Zack Greinke, as Danny Knobler reported today, plus Anibal Sanchez and possibly Kyle Lohse as rotation alternatives in addition to Hyun-Jim Ryu, the Korean pitcher whose bidding right they won. The Angels' top target is believed to be Greinke.
Kuroda, 37, has told folks he's amenable to a one-year deal because he wants to ensure he has plenty left for his final year in Japan. He was 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in New York in 2012.