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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Updated: November 22, 11:44 AM ET
Hiroki Kuroda left money on table

By Andrew Marchand
ESPNNewYork.com

In choosing to sign a one-year, $15 million contract with the New York Yankees, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda declined other teams' offers of more money and years, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told ESPNNewYork.com Wednesday.

Besides the Yankees, the teams most interested in Kuroda were the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. Kuroda also seriously considered returning to Japan.

The Yankees received the edge because of Kuroda's comfort level in the Bronx. In his first season with the Yankees, Kuroda felt at home with his new teammates, the fans and the city. He was glad to take a one-year offer because he would like to finish his career in Japan, the source confirmed.

Kuroda, 38, could have selected two-year offers, or contracts with player options, but he favored the flexibility of going through the process again next offseason.

The Yankees favored a one-year deal because the team is trying to cut its payroll to $189 million by 2014 to save tens of millions in luxury taxes. The Yankees' payroll in 2012 was about $210 million.

During the process, Kuroda weighed the advantages of pitching on the West Coast again vs. New York. It wasn't until this week that he decided to re-sign with the Yankees.

The exact amount Kuroda turned his back on is unknown, but even in negotiations, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman sensed he was not the highest bidder.

"I think by coming here he left some money on the table," Cashman said. "I think it's a reflection of he really enjoyed playing here, in this city, for this team, for this organization and with these teammates to come back under the circumstances he's coming back under. And we stretched, too, to make it happen."

Last season, Kuroda finished 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA. He will be the Yankees' No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia. The Yankees are waiting on potential No. 3 starter Andy Pettitte to decide if he will return. The team believes he likely will, but Pettitte has yet to make it official.

At this point, the Yankees' No. 4 starter will be Phil Hughes, with Ivan Nova and David Phelps to fight it out in the spring for the fifth spot. Michael Pineda, the Yankees' big acquisition made last offseason, is expected to be ready to return from shoulder surgery in June.