It seemed touch-and-go for a little while, but the Dodgers officially announced the signing of Kenta Maeda to an eight-year contract.
With the way this offseason has gone for the Dodgers, it’s understandable that many were concerned about the Maeda signing failing to be announced. The first bit of information came on December 31st, and if all the “reported” transactions came true, the Dodgers would have Aroldis Chapman and Hisashi Iwakuma heading into 2016.
There were rumblings about concerns about the elbow of Kenta Maeda, with some worrying that a lack of official announcement put the deal in jeopardy. Today, the Dodgers made the deal official.
Maeda is the next piece of a rich history of Japanese pitchers and the Dodgers. Most, like Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, Takashi Saito and Hiroki Kuroda, have seen a fair amount of success in Dodger blue, and hopefully Maeda follows suit. Maeda will wear the number 18, like Kuroda did in his four years as a Dodger (and three years as a Yankee). Maeda also called 18 his lucky number.
Maeda said, through a translator in his press conference, that the elbow concerns came to light and were factored into his contract. He deflected two follow up questions asking about the specific injury, but said that he felt confident in pitching this season and in the future. He was not worried about being able to pitch, and he said his goal was to reach 200 innings pitched. Maeda was also asked about Nomo, and said that he tried to replicate his tornado windup when he was a kid.
Maeda didn’t seem concerned about the transition to the MLB, and pointed to previous experience in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In the semifinals, Maeda pitched at AT&T Park and allowed four hits and one run in five innings against Puerto Rico, but took the loss.
Andrew Friedman called Maeda a great athlete, with the ability to field and hit a a bit. According to David Vassegh, Friedman also indicated that the rotation was set.
The main takeaway from the press conference was the final goal that Maeda had. He mentioned twice, through his translator, that he wanted to be part of a champagne fight at the end of the season.
According to Bill Shaikin, Maeda receives $25 million guaranteed, and incentives could push the total contract over $100 million. There are also no opt-outs in his deal.
To make room on the roster, Ronald Torreyes was designated for assignment.
Maeda took part in a twitter q+a. It took a while for pictures of the press conference to become available, so here are some q+a highlights.
When asked what his favorite thing about LA has been in the time he’s been here:
When asked Elvis or the Beatles:
When asked about wearing the number 18:
When asked if he was a good hitter:
When asked if he’s met any of his future teammates (with response from one of them):
And finally, when asked “are you gonna help us win the World Series this year, yes or yes?””