The Los Angeles Dodgers landing Kenta Maeda is filled with risks: Not just the huge contract for someone who has never played Major League Baseball before, but elbow issues and injuries in his past adding to the risk factor of this endeavor.
Maeda is signed to an incentive based deal which could be worth up to $106.2 million, if he stays healthy. He gets “only” 25 million over eight years, but there are plenty of bonuses to be earned along the way. The physical the 27-year old underwent revealed some irregularities which the Dodgers didn’t specify what they were (probably elbow) but both Maeda and the Dodgers don’t think there should be issues with Maeda playing full seasons for them.
The Dodgers added Maeda to break the left-handed dominance in their rotation, which could turn him into something of a specialist and maybe take off some of the load from his arm. As Andrew Friedman, the team’s president of baseball operations put it, all pitchers come with an injury risk. They simply have more knowledge on Maeda before he starts pitching for them, which makes him worth the chance they’re taking on him.
He gets a $1 million signing bonus once the deal is approved by the commissioner’s office. The way to the full $106.2 million goes through being on the opening day roster each season, making 32 starts and pitching at least 200 innings each year. It comes to $6.5 million each season ($1 million each for 15 and 20, and $1.5 million apiece for 25, 30 and 32 starts) if he gets to 32, and gets up to $3.5 million annually based on innings pitched (250,000 for 90 and each additional 10 through 190, and $750,000 for 200) with a $1 million trade kicker each time he’s moved. He’s also guaranteed to wear the #18 jersey. There are lot more perks on this deal, showing just how much the Dodgers believe he can be a real game changer for them.
In Japan, Maeda never had serious injury issues, going 97-67 with a 2.39 ERA and 1.05 WHIP playing eight seasons with Hiroshima. He has twice won the Sawamura Award, the equivalent of MLB’s Cy Young Award given to the best pitcher. The Dodgers will pay Hiroshima a $20 million posting fee.