The annual dance that has been Hiroki Kuroda picking between the Yankees and Japan has ended its latest installment, but this time with an unexpected result: Hiroki Kuroda is returning to Japan. Sorry, Yankees.
— N. Diunte (@ExamineBaseball) December 26, 2014
Kuroda, who will soon turn 40, was always likely to head back to play in Japan one more time, but nobody quite knew when that time would be. His performance slipped a little bit last season, but Kuroda still managed to log 199 innings and post a 3.71 ERA with a 3.60 FIP. Clearly Kuroda was still capable at being an above average MLB starter despite his age. But instead of waiting for his performance to fall off the cliff in MLB, he is choosing to ride off into the sunset by finishing his career in the NBP.
While they always knew it was a possibility, losing Kuroda still has to be a big blow to the New York Yankees who had counted on Kuroda as a stabilizing force in an otherwise tumultuous rotation the last three years. They are now left with a rotation that includes Masahiro Tanaka, whatever CC Sabathia is now, new acquisition Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda (when healthy) and likely Chris Capuano. If that doesn’t strike you as a World Series caliber rotation, there is a reason. It is that same reason that has many believing that the Yankees will eventually make a play for Max Scherzer.