LOS ANGELES – Less than 24 hours after we wrote the Dodgers weren't done making moves, the formidable front office of Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi has made another move for a starting pitcher.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports the Los Angeles Dodgers have reached an agreement with Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda.
The deal has not been finalized yet, and could still fall through as other offseason acquisitions of Hisashi Iwakuma and Aroldis Chapman that fell through have proven, but if the deal gets done and the contract is signed, Maeda would join Scott Kazmir as the second Dodgers starting pitcher signed this offseason, and the first right-handed pitcher on what will be a predominantly lefty starting rotation.
The terms of the contract have not been released, but we do know that the Dodgers will have to post a $20 million release fee on top of Maeda's annual salary. The release fee is standard for international players in the world of baseball, as the MLB does not consider these players as normal free agents. The fee, will go directly to the Hiroshima Carp, Maeda's current team in Japan, who posted Maeda last month, allowing him to move to the Major Leagues.
After Maeda was posted, MLB teams had 30 days to finalize an agreement with the Japanese ace or he would return to the Hiroshima Carp. Multiple teams were rumored to be interested in Maeda including the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants.
Maeda is 27 years old and was the top pitcher in the Japanese Central League last season. The right-hander went 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA in 29 starts and was awarded the Eiji Sawmura Award as the top pitcher in Japan (his second time receiving the honor).
Maeda will join Korean Hyun-Jin Ryu as the second pitcher of Asian descent to join the Dodgers rotation. If Maeda turns out to be everything he's advertised to be, he could be slated to start behind Clayton Kershaw as the Dodgers No. 2 starter, replacing Cy Young Award runner-up Zack Greinke.
Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi and President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman told the media on Wednesday, that they were not done making moves and they would still look to make additions to the team before pitchers and catchers report to spring training at the end of February.
"We're always looking to improve the team," Zaidi said. "We certainly have a healthy number of starting pitching options, both veteran guys and young guys coming up through the system who will be ready at some point in 2016."
Maeda will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman, Hideo Nomo, who joined the Dodgers in 1995 after four years in Japan. Nomo promptly won Rookie of the Year that year, and "Nomo fever" swept across Los Angeles as Japanese Americans came to Dodger Stadium in droves to watch "The Tornado" pitch at Chavez Ravine.