By the end of this season, Hiroki Kuroda will have four years of major-league service.
But for the Dodgers – or the team that acquires him before Sunday’s non-waiver trade deadline – Kuroda will be treated as if he has six or more, like the more conventional major-league free agents.
Kuroda, 36, spent 11 seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League. He isn’t credited for those years in the Major League Baseball service-time calculation. And typically, players with four years of major-league service are eligible for salary arbitration, not free agency.
However, Kuroda’s contract stipulates that he will be eligible for Article XX(B) free agency after this season. Thus, his team can offer him salary arbitration and collect draft pick compensation if he qualifies for it through the Elias Rankings.
According to projections at MLBTradeRumors.com, Kuroda is scheduled to be a Type B free agent, which carries one compensatory pick. Kuroda, however, is on the bubble for the Type B designation, according to the MLBTradeRumors.com projection, so it’s possible that he could lose the compensation if he performs poorly during the final two months.
Draft pick compensation has had a big effect on the perceived and actual value of trade candidates in recent years. The Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, and Rangers are interested in trading for Kuroda, sources say.
Kuroda signed a one-year, $12 million contract before this season. Of note: He has yet to receive his $4 million signing bonus as part of the deal. He is due $1.5 million in January 2012 and $2.5 million in January 2013.
So, Kuroda is technically owed about $6.7 million on his contract as of this date.
-- Jon Paul Morosi