Dodgers Video: Kenta Maeda Throws First Bullpen Session Of 2017
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While the Los Angeles Dodgers were expected to be among the clubs bidding to sign Kenta Maeda out of Japan, their inking the right-hander to an eight-year contract came as a surprise. It’s the longest contract Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has doled out.

Further surprise with the deal came once reports surfaced Maeda was only guaranteed $25 million over the lifetime of the contract. His eight-year pact is laced with incentives, which were explained by “irregularities” cropping up during Maeda’s physical.

While there was some health concern hovering over the 28-year-old, Maeda proved to be a stalwart for the Dodgers. He was the lone starting pitcher in the rotation to avoid the disabled list last season, and Maeda wound up leading the Dodgers with 175.2 innings pitched.

Speaking during FanFest last month, he set a goal of throwing 200 innings this season. Maeda also said he’d yet to throw off a mound, but expected to do so at least twice before reporting to Spring Training.

The first of which came on Tuesday, as Maeda shared on Instagram:

After speaking with the Dodgers, Maeda elected to not join the Japan national team for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. It’s a decision Maeda said he’s comfortable with, as his focus is on pitching well for the Dodgers this season.

The right-hander went 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA, 3.58 FIP and 1.14 WHIP, and finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting last season.