The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to sign Japanese ace right-handed pitcher Kenta Maeda, Christopher Meola reported. The deal was then confirmed by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Meola and Joel Sherman of the New York Post went on to report that the deal is for eight seasons and worth $25 million. He added that the deal includes plenty of incentives, which could add an extra $10 to $12 million per season. If all things cash out, Maeda could end up making over $100 million on the contract.
Maeda becomes the second addition to the Dodgers' rotation in just two days, after they announced the signing of Scott Kazmir to a three-year deal. After the loss of Zack Greinke, Los Angeles needed another starter, but they missed out on many of the top options.
Maeda provides balance to a Dodgers' rotation that had been completely filled by left-handed pitchers.
With the move, Alex Wood is likely bumped to the bullpen. To go along with Maeda the rotation includes Clayton Kershaw, Kazmir, Brett Anderson, and Ryu. Brandon McCarthy, another starter, is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Dodgers get quite a steal with the contract, as just $24 million of it is fully guaranteed. It was initially thought that Maeda would be a big risk, considering he is an international talent. However, with these terms, the contract completely becomes no-risk for the club.
Maeda becomes the second Japanese ace to sign with a Major League Baseball team in a few years, with Masahiro Tanaka joining the Yankees during the 2013-2014 offseason.
The new posting system will require the Dodgers to pay a posting fee for Maeda of up to $20 million. Under the new system, the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) club sets the fee (up to $20 million) and any team that pledges to pay the fee is able to negotiate with the player.
It is assumed that Maeda was placed on the market for $20 million, though that is not confirmed.
Maeda does not post flashy strikeout numbers, however, his pinpoint control is his best asset. In the 2015 season in Japan, Maeda went 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA and a 175 to 41 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 206 1/3 innings pitched.
Meola reported the Diamondbacks and Astros were also in on Maeda. It is unknown whether either of them offered him a contract.
The Los Angeles Dodgers announced the signing of Scott Kazmir to a three-year deal on Wednesday.
Kazmir will make $48 million over the life of the deal and has an opt-out after one season, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The total will be deferred out over a six year period, the New York Post's Joel Sherman reported.
The addition of Kazmir is definitely what the Dodgers needed.
They lost Zack Greinke in free agency and have really tried hard to add another starting pitcher. They missed out on David Price, Hisashi Iwakuma, and every other starter they had interest in. They even had a deal done with Iwakuma, though it fell through due to an unclear physical.
There are downsides to adding Kazmir as well.
Los Angeles' rotation now includes only left-handed pitchers, with Kazmir sliding into a staff with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Alex Wood. Only Brandon McCarthy, who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, is right-handed. This unbalance is definitely an interesting one, though it remains to be seen whether it will have negative effects.
As for Kazmir, the Nationals, Orioles, Royals, and Astros (as well as the Dodgers) were connected to him throughout the offseason.
At $16 million per season, Kazmir will make the same on an annual basis as fellow starter Mike Leake. Kazmir, at almost age 32, is four years younger than Leake, thus he received fewer guaranteed seasons. Regardless, $48 million is plenty for a pitcher that has only made $50.897 million in his eleven-year career thus far (via BaseballReference.com).
Last season, Kazmir went 7-11 with a 3.10 ERA and a 155 to 59 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 183 innings pitched with the Athletics and the Astros.
It has definitely been a long road back for Kazmir, who was a first round pick in 2002 by the Mets, but out of affiliated baseball in 2012. He made a resurgence in 2014 and has kept it going ever since. Now, he gets his first big payday with the Dodgers.
The opt-out clause in Kazmir's deal is just another example of how the provision has really become popular this offseason. David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Jason Heyward have all received it. Kazmir can choose to become a free agent next offseason if he feels he can earn more money. This could be key in a starting pitching class that is extremely weak behind Stephen Strasburg.
The Dodgers will not lose a draft pick with the signing of Kazmir, as he was not eligible for a qualifying offer.
The free agent outfield market, outside of Jason Heyward, has been slow moving.
Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon, and Justin Upton are all out there for teams to sign, but the three have yet to really develop their markets. Barring a major shakeup, they will probably all be free agents going into the new year.
According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, Cespedes' market, in particular, has begun to take shape.
He reports that the Orioles and White Sox are emerging as leaders for Cespedes "for now." The Giants and Angels are also reportedly in the mix and the Rangers are monitoring the situation.
Both Baltimore and Chicago have shown the need for an outfielder.
The Orioles are missing depth in the corner outfield. They already agreed to sign Hyun-soo Kim out of Korea to fill one of the two sports, but as of now, L.J. Hoes is the starter in the other. In general, the Orioles' lineup will take a step back with the expected loss of Chris Davis from the heart of the order.
As for Chicago, they are in a similar situation. The team showed their willingness to contend already this offseason, acquiring Todd Frazier from the Reds. Any outfielder they sign would likely be an upgrade over Avisail Garcia in right field. He hit for just a .675 OPS and 89 OPS+ in 601 plate appearances.
The Giants and Angels have already been connected to free agent outfielders this offseason. The Rangers could always make a splash.
Last season, the 30-year-old Cespedes hit .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBIs in 676 plate appearances with the Tigers and Mets. According to FanGraphs, he was worth a whopping 6.7 Wins Above Replacement.
The New York Yankees have acquired left-handed relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. Jack Curry of the YES Network first reported the deal.
In exchange, the Reds received four prospects, including right-handed pitchers Rookie Davis and Caleb Cotham and infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda.
The biggest move in the trade is obviously Chapman to New York, which does constitute a big risk.
Chapman was reportedly involved in a domestic violence incident a few months ago, Yahoo! Sports reported during the Winter Meetings. At that time, the Reds were close to dealing Chapman to the Dodgers, but because of the allegations, the deal fell through.
With that said, Major League Baseball has a new domestic violence policy, where the commissioner has the chance to punish players how he feels necessary.
One interesting aspect to this saga is Chapman's free agent status. If he is put on MLB's restricted list in 2016 (in the event he is suspended), it is possible he could not reach six seasons of Major League Service Time, thus delaying his free agency to after the 2017 season. The Yankees must have taken this into consideration.
Domestic violence issues aside, Chapman adds another element to an already-dominant back-end of the Yankees bullpen. Alongside Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, New York now possesses the pitchers with the top three highest strikeout rates in baseball from 2014 to 2015. Chapman posted a 46.3 strikeout percentage (percent of plate appearances that ended in a strikeout), Miller posted a 41.6 percentage, and Betances posted a 39.5 percentage.
Chapman is easily the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball, easily hitting 100 MPH and topping out over 103. He will step into the closer's role in 2016, the position held by Miller last year.
In 2015, Chapman went 4-4 with a 1.63 ERA and a 116 to 33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 66 1/3 innings pitched last season. He saved 33 games in 36 opportunities and was named to his fourth All-Star team in a row. According to FanGraphs, the Cuban lefty was worth 2.5 Wins Above Replacement.
For the Reds, the deal of Chapman helps their rebuilding efforts for the future. While none of the prospects they got are true headliners, Davis and Jagielo are projected to have a chance to make a true big league impact down the road.
After Mike Leake signed earlier this week, the market for other mid-tier starting pitchers, like Yovani Gallardo, have begun to move to forefront around Major League Baseball.
Gallardo's agent, Alan Nero of Octagon, told The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo said that he has been in discussions, but that nothing has "moved forward" during this holiday week. Teams are in on him, but not quite all-in.
The Royals, Astros, and Orioles have all been linked to the free agent right-hander.
Cafardo notes that fellow starter Scott Kazmir's market appears to be tied to Gallardo's, meaning that once Gallardo signs, teams who were unable to get him will turn to Kazmir. They are, at least in my opinion, going to get comparable contracts.
Gallardo, who turns 30 in February, was very solid production-wise last year. He went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA and a 121 to 68 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 184 1/3 innings pitched. According to FanGraphs, he was worth 2.5 Wins Above Replacement.