The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Kenta Maeda to a unique, team-friendly contract just prior to the 2016 season. At eight years with an average annual value of just $3 million, the right-hander was due to heavily rely on triggering incentives to maximize his total payout per season.
As his contract is currently structured, Maeda has the opportunity to earn significant bonuses based on the number of starts he makes and innings he logs. To reach those certain thresholds, though, would require remaining in the starting rotation for the majority of the season.
Despite this, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed that he won’t manage Maeda based on the incentives in his contract, and instead, will make decisions that benefit the club as a whole, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“I know that there’s something to starts in his contract,” Roberts said. “I don’t know specifics. I really don’t. For me, it’s better that way. Because I manage to what’s best for the ball club. And I think to Kenta’s credit, he’s open to whatever the organization feels.”
Maeda returned to the starting rotation in Spring Training after a dominant showing as a reliever during the 2017 postseason. He maintained a spot to kick off the regular season and started against the San Francisco Giants in the third game of the Opening Series at Dodger Stadium.
But the 29-year-old was then moved to the bullpen, where Maeda provided depth for the finale of the Arizona Diamondbacks series. After a rainout prevented Maeda from making a start, he remained a reliever for the series with the Giants, and logged two scoreless innings on Saturday.
Maeda is expected to reprise his role in the starting rotation this week, and could very well make his second start of the season at home against the Diamondbacks.