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Monday, November 19, 2012
Is Kuroda worth the draft pick? Um, yeah

By Mark Saxon

Because the New York Yankees made a qualifying offer to pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (and he turned it down), signing Kuroda would cost a team -- say, the Dodgers -- their first-round draft pick.

It has become fashionable to say that signing Kuroda wouldn’t be worth the pick, the No. 19 overall selection. Really? Not sure I’m buying that one.

Drafting, signing and developing players are the only ways for most teams to have sustained success. But, unless you’re drafting in the top 10 or so and picking the most freakish players in the country, the baseball draft is important only in the aggregate.

If the Dodgers think Kuroda, at 38, could step into their rotation next season in the No. 3 or 4 spot and give them enough balance to reach the World Series, should they really step aside because of some high-school pitcher in North Carolina or some college shortstop from West Covina?

Let’s get real. The baseball draft, unlike those in other sports, is still a ridiculous crap shoot.

The Dodgers had 15 first-round picks between 2000 and 2009. Seven of them have never reached the major leagues. Two of them, Ben Diggins and Bryan Morris, each pitched five major-league games. Diggins’ cup of coffee came for the Milwaukee Brewers, Morris’ with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Of the six guys who made it, Clayton Kershaw is the only star. Chad Billingsley is the only semi-star. James Loney, Scott Elbert, Blake DeWitt and Luke Hochevar have all been serviceable major leaguers at times, but are hardly worth sacrificing a World Series run for.

Giving up the draft pick should play into the Dodgers’ thinking as they compare Kuroda to the other options, but -- come on -- it’s far from a determining factor.