The Los Angeles Dodgers officially signed and introduced Japanese native Kenta Maeda on Thursday, one week after reportedly agreeing to an eight-year contract. Although Maeda confirmed there were “irregularities” with his physical, the 27-year-old right-hander will likely be part of the organization for many years to come.
Maeda’s incentive-laden contract guarantees only $25 million in an agreement that looks to be very cost-effective for the Dodgers.
Maeda would become the eighth Japanese-born player in Dodgers franchise history. It is quite fitting that new manager Dave Roberts also is of Japanese heritage and was born in Okinawa, Japan.
Other Japanese Dodgers include Kazuhisa Ishii, Masao Kida, Hiroki Kuroda, Norihiro Nakamura, Hideo Nomo and Takashi Saito.
The success Japanese pitchers have had with the Dodgers was recently outlined by Eric Stephen of True Blue LA:
Japanese-born pitchers have won 761 major league games, with 170 wins coming as Dodgers. The Red Sox are next-best, with 115 victories from Japanese pitchers. The Dodgers also have accounted for 19.4 percent of all major league innings pitched by Japanese-born pitchers, with 2,595⅔ of 13,323⅓ innings through 2015 coming with Los Angeles.
Stephen went on to write about Nomo’s inspirational career with the Dodgers, which began in 1995 and paved the way for other Japanese players to sign with Major League teams since.
Nomo’s no-hitter in 1996 will forever be ingrained into the memories of Dodger fans. His tenacity was palpable during the Coors Field masterpiece. A Dodger pitcher would not throw another no-hitter for 18 years (Josh Beckett’s in 2014 was the long overdue follow-up).
It’s difficult to believe it has been nearly 21 years since the Dodgers signed Nomo to a Minor League contract with a $2 million signing bonus. The right-hander’s iconic delivery and sensational splitter cemented his place amongst the best pitchers of the 1990s.
CONTINUE READING: Kenta Maeda A Perfect Fit For Dodgers