As announced on Thursday, December 3rd, the Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Central League will be posting their star pitcher Kenta Maeda for Major League Clubs to bid on.
Maeda had initially requested for his club to post him as early as last week. With the success of Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka and other Asian born pitchers in mind, Maeda is sure to draw a lot of attention on the free agent market this winter. The posting fee will likely be set at the maximum of $20 million, which means any team willing to post that amount will be allowed to negotiate with the right hander.
While there are sure to be numerous teams willing to pay the $20 million posting fee for the chance to negotiate with Maeda, the Padres should certainly be willing to throw their hat in the ring.
With a $20 million posting fee, that price may seem a little too high at first glance. However, the Padres really have nothing to lose if they do choose to post that fee, due to the fact that they only must pay that amount if they actually sign Maeda to a contract. If no contract is agreed to, the Padres get back the entirety of that $20 million.
With a lot of uncertainty in the Padres rotation for 2016, taking a risk on Maeda may be a smart decision. Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and James Shields are all being shopped this winter, and the Padres may have several holes in their rotation to fill before next season. Even with a posting fee of $20 million, Maeda’s final contract value will likely be less than that of many other high profile free agent pitchers who have already signed, or have yet to sign, this winter.
Maeda is currently only 27 years old, turning 28 in April, and is coming off the best season of his career in Japan. Maeda finished the season with a 2.09 ERA with a 7.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 206 1/3 innings pitched. Last season marked his sixth consecutive season with an ERA under 2.60 and also netted him his second Sawamura Award, which is Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young award. Overall, Maeda has been one of the best and most consistent pitchers in all of Japan, and that performance is likely to translate well to the MLB.
Maeda will likely receive a five year contract somewhere in the $70-80 million dollar range, which makes him a cheaper alternative to many pitchers on the market. He obviously comes with more risk than most of the other free agent pitchers, but he also comes with huge potential upside at a fair price. The Padres need to make some changes in their rotation for next year, and Maeda may be a great potential fit.