John Minchillo, File, Associated Press
NEW YORK — As Robinson Cano got closer to leaving the New York Yankees, Hiroki Kuroda agreed to stay.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said Friday the pitcher is returning for a third season in the Bronx.
"Kuroda is coming back," Steinbrenner said outside the team's spring training complex.
Kuroda's return fills one of three holes in the rotation behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. The right-hander, who turns 39 in February, got off to a strong start last season before fading down the stretch. He finished 11-13 with a 3.31 ERA in 32 starts covering 201 1-3 innings.
Last month, Kuroda declined a $14.1 million qualifying offer from New York.
While the Yankees offered Cano $175 million over seven years, ESPN reported Friday the second baseman had agreed to a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Mariners, pending a physical.
"He was a great Yankee. He was a great player. I think everybody tried hard to get the deal done. We just never got close enough obviously," Steinbrenner said. "We wish him the best. We hope he has a long, healthy career."
Also Friday, the Yankees finalized a $3 million, one-year contract with utilityman Kelly Johnson. The 31-year-old is an eight-year big league veteran and hit .235 (86 for 366) with 16 homers and 52 RBIs this year for Tampa Bay.
Johnson played third base last year for the first time in his big league career, making 12 starts, and could see time there next season. Alex Rodriguez's status is uncertain as he contests his 211-game drug suspension. Johnson has mostly played second base in his career.
New York introduced new catcher Brian McCann at a news conference Thursday and has a pending $153 million, seven-year agreement with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
"We're going to keep going," Steinbrenner said. "We're still looking at all the same guys that we were looking at a week ago or two ago. We're going to continue to improve. We're not done spending."
AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.