As part of addressing their need for starting pitcher, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda to an eight-year, $25 million contract during the offseason. While Maeda is only guaranteed $25 million, he can earn nearly $100 million in incentives based on starts and innings pitched.
The 27 year old, who spent eight seasons pitching for the Hiroshima Carp, slots into the middle of the Dodgers’ rotation behind left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Scott Kazmir. Like Maeda, Kazmir was another marquee offseason addition.
With injuries in the starting rotation to Brett Anderson, who will miss three to five months after having back surgery, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who may not return until May, Maeda will be relied on more heavily than originally thought.
It appears he is up to the challenge though, as according to Barry Bloom of MLB.com, Maeda wants to be as successful as former Dodgers Japanese starters Hideo Nomo and Hiroki Kuroda:
“They were all successful and loved by the fans,” Maeda said on Thursday after making his second successful start this spring in an 8-3 victory over the A’s at Hohokam Stadium. “I want to be able to be that.”
Heading into his outing on Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox, Maeda has tossed a combined five shutout innings over his first two Spring Training starts. He’s allowed just three hits, walked two and collected five strikeouts.
Last season, the right-hander was 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA. He made 29 starts and logged 206.1 innings pitched. It was the fourth time over the last six years Maeda threw at least 200 innings and made 26 starts.
For his career in Japan, Maeda was 97-67 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and averaged 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings.