Right-hander Kenta Maeda signs a two-year, $24 million deal with the Detroit Tigers

Right-hander Kenta Maeda signs a two-year, $24 million deal with the Detroit Tigers

Right-hander Kenta Maeda signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the deal. The agreement is subject to a physical exam, which is planned for Monday.

Pitcher Maeda, a seven-year MLB veteran, has pitched for the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers. In January 2016, he signed a contract with the Dodgers, allowing the Tigers to sign more Japanese players.

Maeda and the Tigers reached a deal on Sunday, although the signing has not been officially announced by the team. Before Thanksgiving, the two parties were moving closer to reaching an agreement.

The 35-year-old pitched for the Twins in 21 games (20 starts) last season, recording a 4.23 ERA with 117 strikeouts, 28 walks, and 104⅓ innings. However, he finished the season with a 3.36 ERA.

One of the best pitchers to come out of Japan, 25-year-old right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, is open to playing with other Japanese players and doesn’t have a preference for where he wants to settle in the United States, according to Wasserman Group agent Joel Wolfe.

The Tigers hope to make a name for themselves in the Japanese player market.

Before the 2024 season, Yamamoto, left-hander Shōta Imanaga, and left-handed reliever Yuki Matsui intend to transfer from Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan to Major League Baseball.

Yamamoto was formally listed by NPB’s Orix Buffaloes on Monday. It is expected that he would fetch at least $200 million (plus a posting fee). Teams have 45 days to negotiate with Yamamoto; the window opens at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and closes at 5 p.m. on January 4.

Matsui is exempt from the posting procedure, and Imanaga has not yet been posted. According to a person familiar with Imanaga’s interests, he is open to playing with other Japanese players and has no preference for where to play.

With Maeda, the Tigers will have an experienced player to help out their young starting pitchers, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, Reese Olson, and Casey Mize. He has four different fastball pitches: splitter, slider, sinker, and curveball.

Maeda averaged 91 mph with a 25% whiff rate in 2023 with his four-seam fastball; however, he threw more splitters (31.9%) and sliders (30.6%) than fastballs (27.4%). His slider had a whiff rate of 27.6%, and his splitter had a whiff rate of 35%. Despite a minor reduction in velocity over the past few seasons, he still has the ability to miss bats.

In terms of walk rate (6.5%), strikeout rate (27.3%), chase rate (31.2%), and whiff rate (28.2%), he was in the 78th, 77th, and 76th percentile, respectively.

Maeda didn’t return to normal until April 2023 following her Tommy John surgery in September 2021. After spending 16 innings in his first four starts with a 9.00 ERA, he was placed on the injured list in late April due to a strain in his right triceps.

He made a successful return to the Twins in late June, pitching 88⅓ innings with a 3.36 ERA, 25 walks (7% walk rate), and 103 strikeouts (29% strikeout rate). Between June 23 and October 1, 74 pitches with at least 80 innings, he had an ERA of 23, a strikeout rate of 11, and a walk rate of 41.

On June 23, at Comerica Park, Maeda made his Comerica Park comeback, tossing five scoreless innings against the Tigers with three hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts. In back-to-back starts on August 10 at Comerica Park and August 16 at Target Field against the Tigers, he also played well. He pitched ten innings, threw up 10 hits, two walks, and four runs allowed on 10 strikeouts in those games.

The Twins secured the American League Central division on September 23, 2023, at Minneapolis’s Target Field. (The Twins finished ahead of the Tigers by nine games in second place in the AL Central.) During the clubhouse celebration, Maeda was referred to as “kind of the ringleader” by Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. Carlos Correa, a shortstop for the Twins, noted that Maeda was “getting lit” with his teammates.

Behind the scenes, Maeda seems to be a good teammate.

After the Tigers emerged as the front-runners over the course of the last week, it was too early in the offseason for the Twins to aggressively pursue re-signing Maeda, according to sources.

Maeda placed second in the 2020 AL Cy Young voting with the Twins and third in the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year voting with the Dodgers before to the 2023 season.

He pitched 277⅓ innings for the Twins in 2020–21 and 2023 after pitching 589 innings with the Dodgers in 2016–19. Additionally, from 2008 to 2015, he pitched more than 1,500 innings with the Hiroshima Carp in the NPB of Japan over eight seasons.

In his 190 MLB looks, Maeda has a 3.92 ERA over 866⅓ innings. He also has a strong postseason record, logging 41 innings in 27 games (four starts) with a 3.24 ERA, 18 walks, and 48 strikeouts. On the MLB all-time leaderboard for Japanese pitchers, he is ranked fifth in wins, strikeouts, starts, and innings pitched.

As a Dodger, he pitched in the World Series in 2017 and 2018. In the Twins’ 2023 AL Division Series against the Houston Astros, he came off the bullpen for the team.

In six of his seven seasons, Maeda has made it to the postseason.

Topics #Detroit Tigers #Los Angeles Dodgers #Pitcher Maeda #Right-hander Kenta Maeda #Thanksgiving 2023

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