The Detroit Tigers have clinched a two-year contract with right-hander Kenta Maeda, says Jon Heyman of the New York Post (X link). ESPN’s Jeff Passan also confirms the $24MM guarantee, with Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press noting that the pact will be finalized once Maeda passes a physical. Maeda is represented by the Boras Corporation.
Reports indicate that Maeda initially drew interest from the Tigers and the Minnesota Twins, his former team. Now, Maeda joins the Tigers, potentially creating a new dynamic in the division while commencing his third Major League chapter at age 36.
With the possibility of Eduardo Rodriguez leaving Detroit through free agency, Maeda becomes the veteran presence in a youthful Tigers rotation. Most of the Tigers’ young pitchers were plagued by injuries during the tumultuous 2022 season. Promisingly, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning thrived on the mound when healthy, and Reese Olson emerged as a potential rotation asset. Presently, Maeda is expected to bolster the staff, standing as the No. 2 behind Skubal, alongside Manning, Olson, and Casey Mize, set to return after missing 2023 due to Tommy John surgery.
Maeda entered the majors with the Dodgers under an incentive-heavy, eight-year, $25MM deal, which expired this offseason. His four-year stint in Los Angeles was marked by outstanding performances until his 2019-20 trade to the Twins. Despite a solid comeback in 2023 following Tommy John surgery, contractual concerns are evident in his below-projected deal.
Maeda’s recent stats indicate potential, urging the Tigers to make a strategic move. The signing aligns with Tigers’ President of Baseball Operations Scott Harris’ vision, suggesting the team might entertain further opportunities. Moreover, the deal may open doors in the Japanese pitching market, with the Tigers expressing interest in Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shota Imanaga.
Notably, the Twins decided against making a qualifying offer to Maeda as part of their payroll-reduction strategy, underscoring the art of calculated risks in the free-agent market.
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