• Kyodo


Japanese free agents Hiroki Kuroda and Hideki Matsui were ranked 15th and 37th, respectively, in the latest top 50 free agents rankings list released Thursday on the online edition of U.S. magazine Sports Illustrated.

Right-hander Kuroda finished this past season with an 11-13 record and a 3.39 ERA in 31 starts with the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Matsui hit .274 with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs in 145 games for the Los Angeles Angels.

On Matsui, the magazine said, “Matsui improved in the second half, in which his .955 OPS (on-base plus slugging) was 12th-best in the majors.”

It added that another one-year deal, possibly with the Seattle Mariners is likely for Matsui, as the team had no player who hit more than 15 homers this past season.

As for Kuroda, the magazine pointed out that he was the only one with a losing record (28-30) among the top 30 leaders in ERA over the past three seasons.

“Kuroda has been quietly excellent since coming over from Japan in 2008, and might not be more highly regarded only because of his lack of luck.” The magazine speculated that a multiyear offer should be made for Kuroda from teams in need of pitchers, such as the New York Mets.

Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay Rays) was ranked first, followed by Cliff Lee (Texas Rangers) and Jayson Werth (Philadelphia Phillies) in second and third, respectively.

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