Yankees bluffing on Kuroda?

December, 26, 2011
12/26/11
12:21
PM ET
Probably.

It has been reported in several places that the Yankees and Red Sox are actively pursuing free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, but the baseball sources I have spoken with over the past week say it is unlikely the Yankees will make a bid on the 37-year-old former Dodger.

The reason? Once again, the luxury tax.

Kuroda is known to want in the neighborhood of $12 million or $13 million for a one- or two-year deal, which may not seem like much when you consider the Yankees are paying A.J. Burnett $16.5 million a year for each of the remaining two years on his contract.

But when you add in the 40 percent luxury tax surcharge, that pushes Kuroda's price to around $17 million a season, which may be a bit much to gamble on an aging pitcher with a 41-46 career record (3.45 ERA) who has never pitched in the American League.

You can believe this or not believe it, but a team source told me last week that as much as the Yankees like Kuroda (they tried to trade for him last year), "We simply don't have the money to pay him.''

Assuming the person is telling me the truth -- and I am -- any Yankee "interest'' in Kuroda is probably designed to drive up the price for the Red Sox.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .286
HRM. Teixeira 20
RBIJ. Ellsbury 64
RB. Gardner 79
OPSJ. Ellsbury .778
ERAH. Kuroda 3.88
SOM. Tanaka 135