Kenta Maeda Betting on Himself
The Dodgers made Maeda’s signing official today, but the terms of the deal are still not out. The latest is that the guarantee is $25 million for eight years with as much as $12 million per year in incentive clauses.
The Dodgers turned up problems with Maeda’s pitching elbow at the physical, but Maeda is convinced he can be a star in MLB.
What I find interesting about that is that a few years ago, the reports from Japan suggested Maeda might be somewhat reticent about coming to MLB, because he might not yet be “ready.” More recent reports indicate that Maeda asked to be posted two off-seasons ago, but that the Hiroshima Carp turned him down. The Carp couldn’t turn him down this year because he’ll be an unrestricted NPB free agent after the 2016 season, and they’d lose the $20 million posting fee for one more year of service.
My suspicion is that Maeda’s statements a few years ago were just Japanese politeness for the fact that the Carp weren’t yet ready to let him go. Hiroshima’s 2014 and 2015 attendance numbers were highest in team history, because the team made the play-offs in 2013 and 2014, in no small part due to Maeda, their best pitcher.
In any event, the Dodgers’ guarantee is considerably better than what Maeda could have made staying in Japan. He could have made as much as $3.125 million in NPB this year and could then sign a four year deal worth as much as 2.4 billion yen, currently $20.3 million, but which would also require big performance incentives to reach the full value.
The Dodgers’ performance incentives could get him over $100 million, if he meets them. Signing with the Dodgers is a “risk” you have to take, since it’s no risk at all.