Above we see Kenta Maeda. The buzz out of Japan this winter– and all summer long, really– has focussed almost entirely on Masahiro Tanaka, but according to Ben Badler of Baseball America (it’s not paywall’d! read it!), Maeda is a very good pitcher in his own right, and apparently he wants to pitch in the big leagues.

To wit:

Maeda, 25, ranked as Baseball America’s No. 7 prospect at the WBC among players not affiliated with a major league team. Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, who recently left Cuba to pursue a major league contract, was the No. 10 prospect on the list, while Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox, was No. 3.

Now there’s sentiment that Maeda could be available this offseason once the posting system is finalized.

Maeda, who plays for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, led pitchers in NPB’s Central League in ERA this season, though his was nearly a full run higher than the Pacific League leader– who was, of course, Tanaka. He bested Tanaka in that department in 2012, and according to Badler’s report, “in 2010, Maeda won the Sawamura Award, Japan’s equivalent of the Cy Young.”

However, he has never struck out more than a hitter per inning– as you can see from his Baseball Reference page– and while his low walk rate is a plus, but we’re told that “compared to Tanaka, Maeda doesn’t throw as hard or have a devastating out.”

Maeda is a slightly-built 6 feet, 160 pounds and throws around 87-93 mph with good sink and run, though he doesn’t get great angle on his fastball. He’s a good athlete, which helps him repeat his delivery and thrive when his command, which can be plus at times, is on point. Maeda doesn’t have one knockout secondary pitch, but he has a solid-average slider and mixes in a curveball and a changeup as well.

He’d go straight to the Majors, apparently, but if the floor on Tanaka is supposedly a number three starter, you’d have to think that for Maeda it’s even lower. But there’s a pretty good track record of success there, too, and that has to make him at least a little bit intriguing.

And according to his Wikipedia page, maybe that’s underselling him a little bit, as during the 2013 WBC, “Maeda started 2 games in the pool rounds, against China and Netherlands, amassing a 2-0 record with 0.00 ERA, 0.30 WHIP, allowing just 2 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 15 in 10 innings. He was selected into the tournament’s Best-9 lineup.” (He actually made one more start in the tournament, losing to Puerto Rico despite pitching five innings, giving up four hits, five walks, and one run, striking out three.)

So… there’s that.

Comments (56)

  1. Are teams offering a 20 mill bid if he’s posted?

  2. Lone voice in the wilderness here but I don’t just want AA to go out and get any starter no matter how good they sound on paper. Remember ‘the best rotation in the major leagues’ that we were supposed to have last season and how well that turned out? Trades don’t stop once the season starts. I don’t want some panicky trade/signing that could hurt us again. If exactly the right pitcher for exactly the right price doesn’t turn up, then I’d rather see what we’ve got and go from there. I honestly doubt it could be worse than last season’s complete debacle.

    • The AL East is so competitive that I don’t think you can take the chance. They went all in last year so I don’t think rolling the dice on 40% of your rotation is entirely prudent. Just because we had bad luck with injuries last year doesn’t mean the moves weren’t the correct ones. Getting another starter or two lets the young starters perfect their wares in the minors or as a long man in the pen. I think having Hutchison or Stroman in the long role would be perfect. They innings can be controlled and they continue to get experience without the increased pressure of starting. That’s how teams used to deal with their rookie pitchers.

  3. at the very list, this might help land a FA or trade partner with another FA pitcher in the mix

  4. 6 foot, 160? That’s a beanpole. Durability becomes a question — but as with all pitchers, fine if the price is right. Another arm in the market is good news for the Jays, if only because a possible competitor for SP may take 1 competitor out of other bidding. I trust AA to do due diligence on this guy.

    • Is this proven? The phrase “the bigger they are the harder they fall” has always rang true for me. Like literally. A big guy falls and bam, broken collar bone. Knees go out easier, etc. Skinny guys seem more flexible and seem to heal faster. Just in my own totally random opinion.

      • Dunno — it seems to be the conventional wisdom though. Small guys like Lincecum — are held up as serious aberrations. He was nicknamed “the Freak” b/c it seemed absurd that he could generate such immense torque & velocity out of his small frame. He certainly bucked the trend, — no doubt about it — but he did wear out pretty quickly. Maeda is decently tall at 6 feet to generate some centrifugal force and have a long-ish stride to the plate — though at 6-0 he’s no giant compared to ML pitchers. (And one wonders how accurate that six feet is — 5 11 maybe?!) But a lot of successful pitchers aren’t just tall; they have big, thick, muscular lower halves. Guys like Randy Johnson were pretty thin — but he was fucking 10 feet tall!

        Anyway, this doesn’t mean that Maeda can’t have some success. He’s obviously not a power pitcher. And as a 5 7′, 150 pound weakling, I’ll certainly root for him!

    • He’s pitched 175+ innings the last 5 years.

    • Guess you wouldn’t want Chris Sale, or Randy Johnson.

      How about prime years Pedro Martinez? Pass.

  5. Isn’t Maeda just a Tyler Perry character?

  6. Just sign all of them and don’t look back. SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS

  7. But the guy is a proven China-beater, and has whomped the Netherlands.

  8. Balfour going to the orioles? Great, now we can watch him take forever to close us out.

  9. Sounds good to me! I’d sign him for the Jays. What’s not to like about a 25 year old with a history of professional success? Beats dreaming on Bartolo Colon.

  10. Any Japanese pitcher looking at the contracts being handed out to back of the rotation types like Jason Vargas are going to be yelling, “Post Me!” “Post Me!”

    I don’t know anything about these guys, but its very much a buyer beware market.

  11. Igawa and Matsuzaka make me skeptical that anything but the top pitchers are going to transition to North America. Everyone is different but it would be really tough to expect anything from this guy.

    • Can’t forget Hideki Irabu.

      I was going to insert a sarcastic comment about him, but then just remembered that he hanged himself two years ago.

      Thus, let it never be said that “Bullpen Catcher’s Ball Bag” has poor taste.

    • But Matsuzaka WAS among the top starters. I think if you take anything away from the last decade or so of examples, it’s that pitchers who are transitioning from Japan to the MLB are like a box of chocolate.

    • You forget that Matsuzaka was actually pretty good, besides an absurdly-high walk rate, before he got injured. Had Dice-K not been injured, I think the Red Sox would have stood to have gotten back value somewhat close to what they had invested, which has to be considered a win when most big contracts don’t pan out.

      But then that’s the risk with any pitcher you sign–that they might get injured.

  12. Even he will probably go for the 20million max posting bid. Maybe something like a 5 year 30mil contract on top.

  13. If ownership is willing to absorb salary, Masterson + Cabrera from Cleveland?

    • Santos, Cecil, Melky, Lind and Redmond for Masterson and Cabrera?

      • Im sure CLeveland cant wait to get our spare parts!

        • I could do Hutch or Drabek instead of Redmond.

          • you can try adding things people want. Masterson is a top rotation guy (say a #2) and Cabrera is a starting SS. Would you want a TJ guy that is set to be our #5 or AAA starter and another TJ rehad (2 in the last few years), a Lefty platoon batter? Oh but throw in Cecil who was shit before last year, whos a reliever and a guy who had a tumor. The only good piece is Santos and he’s ify..Santos and Lind I can see as the add ons not the best parts.

      • LOL MLB isn’t fantasy baseball…

      • They don’t say no, they just laugh.

        • Ha

          • I love the peaceful felineg of this post, Judy. I always try to imagine the lives of the people who lived in abandoned old houses, too! Thinking of all the hope they must have felt when they moved into it when it was brand new. . . And yes(!!!) the election! Yay! I’m certainly glad there will be no need for any bra-burning! LOL!xo

      • Holy fuck dude whats with all these trades that only include a decent reliever and bench/platoon players and shitty spare parts. You need to add a prospect (a top one) and MLB ready contributing player(s) Masterson and Cabrera would probably both get offered QO in free agent year so they require a top prospect each to at least start a conversation. The Jays arent doing these teams “favors” by taking quality players with contract money..fuck NYY could do these deals and not bat a lash at the money.

        Also I could be full of shit but you sir and more full of shit.

        • Santos was almost traded and Cecil was an ALL-STAR this year and Melky was an all-star last year. I said I could do Hutchison or Drabek instead of Redmond. Lind is a good player. At least I’m trying to make suggestions.

          • no you are looking at the roster, keeping all best pieces and saying how about we trade the shit left over for your top guys. How old are you?Cabrera was on the DL last year with a tumor and his legs barely worked. the year before when he was an all-star he was suspended for PED’s and was his best season ever…thats why we were able to sign him for a decent contract that now is just ok. Cecil as I stated before was shit before last year. All-stars a good and all but relief pitchers are not the same as a top starter. Huchison and drabeck just had TJ just over a year ago and didnt light it up upon their return. they probably have to establish a little value. I just dont understand why you are trying so hard and keep using the same shit parts. These teams want someone to over pay to force their hands. You might get a fair deal but its no different than what we’d be asking for from a trade for Bautista or EE. think of it that way…

            • You are right, as although on a strictly WAR basis, it probably doesn’t line up that badly, the problem is you’ve used 5 roster spot to get it not 2. I don’t think Santos, Cecil and Lind is ridiculous for a mid/back end starter, but you’d need a team that has those specific needs to make it work

              • Thanks JUK, that was what I was trying to say, but the problem is if I make a proposal for a trade he jumps up and down and says it’s a stupid idea.

  14. I’ve been of Maeda for a while. He’s got good stuff but it’s hard to say how he’d adjust to MLB, but I’m all for signing him and having Maeda and Stroman comprise the “small man” back of the rotation.

  15. I’d like me some Cliff Lee please.

  16. Sadly all three per an update on MLBTR. Lee or hamel’s not moving, Amaro’s being a troll.

    • so we offer a bunch of guys without options, a choice of closer and we got a new pitcher for. Just tell him to fuck off at getting any prospects lol ugh

  17. Umm max effort much. Hes a reliever in MLB

  18. With the way free agents are cashing in these days, if this guy cost the jays 40m(posting included) for 5-6 years of control, I wouldn’t mind the risk. Desperate times…

  19. Maeda is not the type of Japanese pitcher who will succeed in the majors, at least at a high level. Here are the pros and cons:

    Pros: throws strikes, has decent movement on his sinker and slider
    Cons: fastball is nothing special, and his slider isn’t nasty enough to strike out many major leaguers. He also has trouble keeping his pitches down, and in the MLB that means home runs.

    The Jays should stay away from this guy. He’s basically a Todd Redmond-lite with a much heftier price tag.

  20. [...] the pool of available players this winter once (if?) the new MLB/NBP posting system is finalized. Andrew Stoeten at DJF was the first to connect this development to the Toronto Blue Jays after Badler shared this morning [...]

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