Kenta Maeda

One of the best pitchers in Japanese baseball, Kenta Maeda of Hiroshima Toyo Carp, might be on his way to Major League Baseball, with the Arizona Diamondbacks showing special interest in him.

Maeda is 28, with six consecutive seasons of sub 2.60 ERA. He’s a 3-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, two-time Eiji Sawamura award winner and was part of the 2013 World Baseball Classic best-9 lineup after close to perfect pitching performances against China and the Netherlands. At the time he said he’ll use the tournament to decide whether or not he’s ready to play in MLB.

His team will post him, which means MLB teams can earn the right to negotiate with Maeda for 30 days by agreeing to pay Hiroshima a maximum fee of $20 million. The Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart has said a number of times how much he likes Maeda’s game, and the team, already making one huge pitching addition this offseason (Zack Greinke) will probably be in the running for Maeda as well.

Maeda finished with a 15-8 record last season, posting a 2.09 ERA. He allowed 7.3 hits per nine innings and struck out 7.6 batters per nine innings. He throws two different fastballs  that top out at 95 mph but are usually hovering between 88 and 92, but his low 80s slider is his best pitch. He also throws the occasional curveball and changeup.

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