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12/14/07 10:14 PM ET

Dodgers closer to signing Kuroda

Japanese right-hander may decide as soon as Saturday

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers moved closer to an agreement with Japanese free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda as negotiations continued on Friday.

One of his agents told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Kuroda was close to making a decision, and a baseball official said it might come as soon as Saturday. The Dodgers were competing with the Mariners, Diamondbacks and Royals for the 32-year-old.

The Mariners and Royals were believed to have offered four-year contracts, while the Dodgers were believed to have offered a three-year deal. All of the offers were believed to have an annual salary of around $11 million.

Kuroda posted a 12-8 record for the Hiroshima Carp last season and has a 103-89 career record in Japan.

Kuroda would join a rotation that already features Brad Penny, Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley. The fifth starter will come from a group of candidates that includes Jason Schmidt and Esteban Loaiza.

Despite trade rumors for the likes of Erik Bedard and Dan Haren, Kuroda has been the Dodgers' primary pitching target this offseason.

Johnston resigns: Camille Johnston, the Dodgers' senior vice president of communications the past two years, resigned on Friday. Johnston is the second senior club official to leave in the last month after the departure of chief operating officer Marty Greenspun.

Johnston had been credited for improving internal and external communications for the organization. However, speculation of her departure began with last month's hiring of Dr. Charles Steinberg as executive vice president of marketing, public relations and chief marketing officer.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.