On this date seven years ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to a three-year deal. Kuroda signed for three years and $35.3 million after declaring free agency from Japan.
The then 32-year-old left Japan after suffering through another losing season with his team, the Hiroshima Carp. Kuroda reached free agency the year before and signed a four-year deal with the Carp that allowed him to declare his free agency in the United States in any year. The Carp missed the postseason and Kuroda decided to test the free agent waters in the majors. He received interest from a number of teams, including the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Kansas City Royals, but it was the Dodgers that made the best offer.
Kuroda went into the 2008 as a member of the starting rotation and finished the year at 9-10 with a 3.73 ERA. He started 31 games and threw 183.1 innings for the NL West champion Dodgers. In the postseason, the right-hander went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts but the Dodgers ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS.
In 2009, Kuroda was named the Opening Day starter and went six innings, allowing just one run to earn the win. He was injured in his next bullpen session and was out until June 1. Kuroda returned and continued pitching until a scary incident in a regular season game on August 15. Facing Rusty Ryal of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kuroda was struck on the head by a line drive and was taken off on a stretcher. He would return later in the season and finished the year 8-7 with a 3.76 ERA in 20 starts.
The right-hander spent two more seasons with the Dodgers and finished with a record of 41-46 in four seasons with the team. He had an ERA of 3.45 with 523 strikeouts in 114 starts.