Given how the Los Angeles Dodgers offseason has gone, it was fitting Kenta Maeda’s eight-year contract wasn’t made official without whispers of concern over his physical.
Maeda confirmed during Thursday’s introductory press conference “irregularities” popped up in a physical, though didn’t provide additional details and refused to answer questions about his elbow.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman also didn’t get into the specifics of what red flags were raised.
However, he did clarify the club was aware of them prior to entering into negotiations with Maeda as the right-hander took a physical with the results then sent to interested teams.
Friedman went on to downplay some of the concern and acknowledged the team-friendly contract is a byproduct of the physical.
“Obviously it factored into the contract,” he said. “But the fact that he’s totally asymptomatic, the fact that he pitched as recently as six weeks ago gives us as much confidence as we can have at this point that he will be a meaningful part of our team in 2016.
“The fact that there is risk involved over and above the normal risk involved with a pitcher, I think was factored into the length of the agreement and the structure of the agreement. We are optimistic that he is going to help us win a lot of games over a lot of years. Exactly how that plays out we don’t have all the answers to.”
While Maeda’s deal guarantees him a bargain price of $25 million, Friedman was sure to point out the Japanese native can earn much more through incentives. “He can earn over $100 million and that’s what we hope he does,” Friedman said.
Maeda’s incentives hinge on games started and innings pitched — an estimated 30 starts and 200 innings per season, Friedman estimated, for the righty to cash in on all of the bonus money available.
However lucrative the contract winds up being, Friedman said the Dodgers, nor Maeda, can exercise an opt-out clause to terminate the contract early. It was previously reported the soon-to-be 28 year old won’t be eligible for salary arbitration.
Through the concern and uncertainty lies ahead, the Dodgers clearly believe their latest international signing will make a successful transition to the Majors.
“We feel good about the chance of impacting the Dodgers and helping us win a lot of games,” Friedman said. “We feel like the pitch mix will play here — obviously the fastball, slider is kind of his out pitch, his changeup has really come on, very good feel for a curveball.
“The ability to show so many different pitches and command them, coupled with the kind of athlete he is — he’s a tremendous athlete, fields his position well, holds runners well, can hit — obviously helps in the National League.”