Los Angeles Dodgers Sign Kenta Maeda For What Appears to Be a Bargain Price
The news that the Dodgers had reached contract terms with Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda was announced a few days ago, but today it has been reported that the contract could be as long as eight seasons but guarantees Maeda only $25 million. That’s a whole lot less than what had been predicted, for example, by mlbtraderumors.com who predicted that Maeda would command a five-year deal for $60M in addition to the $20M posting fee.
The actual contract reportedly contains significant incentive clauses, but what exactly those are has not yet been reported. My guess is that with a guarantee this low, the deal may allow Maeda to opt out after three or four seasons, and/or provides that Maeda’s option years vest at substantially higher guaranteed salaries if certain reasonably achievable performance incentives are met.
The main issues with Maeda are that he’s a small right-hander with a lot of miles on his pitching arm, and there are questions throughout MLB regarding transplanted Japanese starters having to pitch every fifth or sixth day in the U.S., instead of the once a week that is typical in Japan.
I wonder if the contract provides any incentives for games finished, because I definitely think there is a chance Maeda won’t be able to start every five days in the U.S. for more than a year or two and that he could end up as a reliever.
It will be interesting to learn of all the specifics of Maeda’s contract when it becomes public knowledge. Teams and player agents are becoming progressively more creative when it comes to contract terms, and this contract will almost certainly contain some unusual new provisions.
I have to think that not many teams other than the Dodgers were willing to tender the $20M posting fee for Maeda, because the guarantee is so low. That and the eight year contract term may also have something to do with the fact that I would expect Los Angeles to be one of the top three or four urban destinations for most Japanese players coming to the U.S., along with New York, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.