A couple of Yankee free agent targets have decided to sit out the World Baseball Classic next year. Both Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki have declined to play in the international tournament that begins in March, according to Anthony Sulla-Heffinger of the NY Post.
Kuroda didn’t give a reason in the Post’s report, but it sounds like Ichiro just isn’t all that thrilled with it after having done it twice in the past.
“I appreciate being asked to play for Japan again at the WBC, but after the second tournament in 2009 I never considered playing in the third event,” Ichiro told the Post.
Not a bid deal as it is kind of a younger man’s tournament and these two guys have been around the block already. Kuroda will probably have signed long before then, but it’s possible that this could make negotiations later on in the offseason smoother for the Yankees and Ichiro if they do attempt to pursue him.
The Yankees are serious about wanting to bring Kuroda back next year, but are said to only want to offer him a one year deal. We’ve heard a number of rumors regarding him — supposedly he wants to go back to Japan at some point and would prefer to pitch in Southern California to be close to his daughters who are in school there — but the Yankees are being aggressive and both those stories could just be him trying to gain more leverage.
As for Ichiro, he’s 39, he had run with the Yankees, but struggled for a year and a half before leaving Seattle. There will be interest in him, but a market for him may develop later in the offseason. He liked it here though and apparently he’d like to stick around. The would probably be interested in re-signing him if he would agree to a one-year deal. They haven’t gotten into any serious negotiations with any possible Nick Swisher replacements.
Japan won both the inaugural 2006 WBC and the 2009 WBC. Ichiro was on both rosters, but Kuroda was only on the 2006 team.