Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw ‘Doubts’ Kenta Maeda Feels Pressure To Replace Zack Greinke
Dodgers Rumors: Hisashi Iwakuma, Kenta Maeda Hoped To Be Teammates
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Entering last season it was widely presumed Zack Greinke would opt out of the remaining three years and $71 million on his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Greinke’s historic 2015 season made that all but a formality.

As expected, the right-hander elected for free agency and soon after rejected the Dodgers’ one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer. Greinke’s free agency process began at a relatively slow pace, though gained steam once David Price signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Los Angeles was believed to be in a bidding war of sorts with the San Francisco Giants for Greinke’s services, only for the Arizona Diamondbacks to interject with a six-year, $206.5 million offer.

Greinke signed with Arizona, setting a new record with a $34.42 million average annual value — beating the previous high of $31 million shared by Miguel Cabrera and Price.

The Dodgers eventually picked up the pieces and moved on by signing Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda, for a combined guaranteed salary that falls well below what Greinke received.

While the Dodgers starting rotation boasts more depth than last season, how they will replace Greinke’s production remains a question mark. As the two newcomers, Kazmir and Maeda face the highest expectations to fill the void.

However, Clayton Kershaw doesn’t believe Maeda is aware of such pressure, according to Andy McCullough of the LA Times:

Prior to signing an eight-year, $25 million contract with the Dodgers, Maeda spent the past eight seasons pitching for the Hiroshima Carp. He was 97-67 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, averaged 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings in Japan, and twice won the Sawamura Award, which is equivalent to a Cy Young.

Maeda was among those already at Camelback Ranch ahead of Friday’s report date pitchers and catchers. He recently threw a bullpen session with the aid of Yasmani Grandal.