Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kenta Maeda and the New York Yankees

The next great thing from Japan may be headed to the United States and the New York Yankees may be one of the teams involved in his services. Whether Maeda will be the next Masahiro Tanaka or Kei Igawa remains to be seen, and so does whether the Yankees will even be involved in his potential bidding or not, but with this post we hope to at least come closer to a decision on both fronts. Should the New York Yankees pursue Kenta Maeda this offseason and add him to the stable of young starting pitchers vying for just five starting rotation spots? 

First and foremost Maeda will not command a Jordan Zimmermann-esque free agent deal worth five-years and $110 million ($22 million AAV) so the Japanese-born righty has that going for him. If the Hiroshima Carp grant his wish to post him, and that’s a big “if” since Hiroshima has denied his request in previous seasons, the starting pitching market would gain a 27-year old right-handed starting pitcher who pitched to a 97-67 record with a 2.39 ERA in eight seasons in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. Last season Maeda posted a 15-8 record with a 2.09 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 ratios in 206.1 innings pitched. Maeda has nice stats but does not figure or project to be the next Tanaka or Yu Darvish in the Major Leagues, although he is expected to be more competitive than Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa. 

If the Yankees were to sign Maeda they would be getting a workhorse that I truly think at least compares to Wei-Yin Chen without the loss of the 22nd overall draft pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Also Maeda would come at the cost of a $20 million maximum posting fee plus his contract instead of giving up big time prospects in a potential trade, another plus for New York. That’s the “good” about Maeda but the “bad” has Maeda, a small framed pitcher at just 6’0” and 160 lbs., throwing just 87-93 MPH on his fastball. Also Maeda’s 7.4 K/9 ratio probably dips at least a full point if not more in the Major Leagues, likely more.  

Maeda isn’t an ace and he isn’t bringing a trip to the Canyon of Heroes with him but if the Yankees are hell bent on adding a starting pitcher this winter Maeda may make the most sense. Sure he’s a risk, any pitcher is, but his contract will likely be shorter than the better free agents on the market and a whole lot cheaper. Maeda could fit into the role Ivan Nova was meant to be in, middle of the rotation type starter that can keep the team in games and give the club over 200 innings every season of the contract. A lot has to happen, Nova being traded is one of them, for Maeda to come to the Bronx but he does make a lot of sense for the club. Hold onto the draft pick and either go big on a David Price or go economical and get a Maeda. Either way is okay with me. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)