Reports: Hiroshima Carp to post right-hander Kenta Maeda
According to multiple reports, the Hiroshima Carp will post ace right-hander Kenta Maeda for MLB teams this offseason.
According to multiple reports out of Japan, including one passed along by Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times, the Hiroshima Carp have agreed to post ace right-hander Kenta Maeda for MLB teams this offseason. Maeda asked to be posted last week.
The 27-year-old Maeda has reportedly wanted to come over to the US for several years now, but Hiroshima declined to post him. They had more incentive to post Maeda now though, because he is inching closer to qualifying for international free agency, and they don't want to lose him for nothing.
Maeda, a two-time winner of the Sawamura Award as Japan's top pitcher, went 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP this past season. He struck out 175 and walked 41 in 206 1/3 innings. Here are his career stats, via Baseball Reference:
|All Levels (8 Seasons)||97||67||2.39||1509.2||1263||443||401||97||319||1233||1.048||7.5||0.6||1.9||7.4|
Although Maeda is argubly the top pitcher in Japan, he is not considered a potential MLB ace a la Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka at the time of their posting. He's viewed as more of a mid-rotation workhorse than a true dominator.
Baseball America's Ben Badler recently posted an updated scouted report on Maeda, which notes he showed lively stuff during the recent Premier 12 tournament. Here's a snippet:
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 ... While Maeda’s slider is usually his go-to secondary pitch, his best offspeed weapon in two starts against Mexico and Puerto Rico was his changeup.
If an MLB club is sold on the improved changeup Maeda showed during the Premier 12, they could raise his profile and consider him a potential front-of-the-rotation starter. That would change his market dramatically.
MLB and Nippon Pro Baseball changed their posting agreement two years ago. Under the new agreement, the Carp will set a release fee, then MLB clubs have 30 days to sign Maeda. The team that signs him pays the release fee, which can not exceed $20 million. The new system is more of a true free agency, allowing Maeda to negotiate with any MLB team.
The Carp will surely seek the maximum $20 million release fee for Maeda. While he won't be an alternative to free agent aces like Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto, Maeda does add some intrigue to the second-tier pitching market. Teams could see him as a better option than, say, Jeff Samardzija or Wei-Yin Chen.
It's unclear when exactly Maeda will officially be posted, though it should be only a matter of days.