The Dodgers reportedly have signed Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a three-year contract that will pay him between $36-40 million. It's obviously a lot of money, but it's a pretty good signing for the Blue Crew.
After Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, and Chad Billingsley, there were serious questions about who would fill the final two spots in the Dodger rotation. Jason Schmidt and Esteban Loaiza are both coming off injuries, and no one wants to rely on DJ Houlton, Eric Stults, or Hong-Chih Kuo. Kuroda led the Central League in complete games from 1999-2005, and has been one of the most consistent pitchers in Japan this decade. Given the lack of available quality free agent pitchers (Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse may be the two best on the market now), this was really about the best the Dodgers could do. (Unless they wanted to sell the farm for Johan Santana.)
The signing goes to show the power that the Dodgers brand name has in Asia, but also give credit to Takashi Saito who reportedly played a role in luring Kuroda to come here.
Signing Japanese players does come with some inherent risk. One never knows how they will adjust culturally or how they might adapt to US training methods. And admittedly, I've never seen Kuroda pitch. But the track record for Japanese players with a high-quality resume like Kuroda's is particularly good, and one would have to assume that the Dodgers wouldn't spend $40 million on someone who their scouts didn't like. Kuroda signed a market-rate contract for starting pitchers and he figures to solidify the team's starting rotation.