Thursday, December 31, 2015

Welcome to the Blue, Kenta Maeda!

Oh Boy!

Reports are swirling that the Dodgers have added another arm to their starting pitching staff, and for once it's not a lefty.  Instead, they appear to have signed recently posted Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda, per Jon Heyman on twitter:
Since we've all been bitten badly in the recent past on these kind of non-confirmed announcements, I would suggest taking this news with a grain of salt.  Still, after weeks of false starts and non-movements I can't help but be excited about what has happened the past few days.  All of the sudden, the Dodgers have a deep staff to go along with the best pitcher in the game - Clayton Kershaw.  Hopefully, this signing doesn't end up falling apart.  BTW, Jeff Passan mentions that it could be quite a few days before it becomes official.  On a side note, this signing should calm Brandon McCarthy's nerves.

For those who don't know, Maeda is suppose to be the next BIG Japanese import.  He throws five pitches, a four-seamer, a sinking fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.  Ben Badler at Baseball America said this of him:
Maeda has shown solid stuff across the board, with a fastball that sits at 89-93 mph and can touch 94, a tick above-average slider that he leans on heavily, along with a curveball and a changeup he will use to try to keep hitters off balance … (in the Premier 12 tournament in November), Maeda’s changeup was a plus pitch. At times, the pitch had good sink, at others it had excellent fade, and sometimes it had both.
(Pic via ‏@YakyuNightOwl on twitter)
Check out some more stories and reports on Maeda in the links below:
Make no mistake, Maeda's secondary pitches and his ability to locate them explain how he's been able to have sustained success in NPB without overpowering stuff. His low-80's slider is known as his best pitch despite true wipeout, bat-missing break because he's able to flip it for strikes to both righties and lefties in any count.
I don’t see Maeda — his nickname is Maeken, by the way (MAEda KENta) — as an ace or anything like that. It does seem like he has a chance to contribute as a mid-rotation guy for someone though.
Exact terms of the agreement are not yet know, but it had been previously noted that the posting fee expected by the Hiroshima Carp was $20 Million. 

In celebration of his signing I made the above two fantasy cards of him.  On the left, the photograph is from Koji Watanabe/Getty Images/ and I used the 1986 Topps Baseball card design.  On the right, the photograph was taken by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images North America during a WBC game in 2013 and I used the 1972 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are his career statistics as a player and a manager, via Baseball-Reference:

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