clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Giants are interested in Kenta Maeda, and so is everyone else

New, 827 comments

The Japanese righty wants to stay on the West Coast, and the Giants are interested.

Looks good in that ballpark, imo
Looks good in that ballpark, imo
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There are going to be a lot of reportedlys and apparentlys for the rest of the week. That's just how rumors work. A writer will hear something from an agent, front office employee, or relative, and pass the game of telephone onto us. The Giants are hot for Alex Gordon purple monkey dishwasher. It's how the game has been played forever, and Twitter has just made it worse.

The Giants are interested in Kenta Maeda, though. No "reportedly" needed. Bruce Bochy said as much. He also cautioned that every team is probably interested in a pitcher like Maeda, a young pitcher with a history of dominance in the NPB. The question is if he gets paid like a Mike Leake, a Jeff Samardzija, or a Jordan Zimmermann. Or worse.

Start with the posting process, which has changed. Teams can offer a posting fee to the Hiroshima Carp up to a maximum of $20 million. Anyone who submits the maximum bid -- in this case, almost certainly $20 million -- can then negotiate with Maeda just like every other free agent. These changes hose the Carp, but they benefit Maeda. Yu Darvish had no leverage and signed a six-year, $56 million deal with the Rangers because they paid his former team over $51 million. Maeda should sign for more than $56 million.

How much more? MLB Trade rumors predicted Maeda would sign for five years, $60 million, with the $20 million kickback to the Carp on top of that. FanGraphs pegs his value at somewhere around there, too. According to Eno Sarris:

... if his new American team gives Maeda any more than six years and $85 million, they’ll be paying only for his upside with no reflection of the risk he represents. A better contract would pay him like a Porcello or Gallardo and hope for a Zimmermann.

I've read Maeda described as a fourth or fifth starter, and Sarris says his best comp might be a younger Kenshin Kawakami, but I'm usually more bullish when it comes to scouting reports for players coming over from the NPB. People were lukewarm on Hiroki Kuroda and Hisashi Iwakuma, too, but they turned out to be solid #2s or #3s, depending on how strict you are with your grading. And, really, a 28-year-old Kawakami probably would have been pretty badass.

The best video clips we have for Maeda are from the World Baseball Classic, except those probably don't show him at his best, early in the season, with a slower fastball than he's shown in the past. He was a little better against MLB All-Stars after the 2014 season:

Really, I think a fair projection is something like a Mike Leake without the bat. Considering that he's around the same age as Leake, and that he might make similar money, it makes sense to pursue him for the potential upside that Leake probably doesn't have at this point. Plus, a deal with him would still allow the Giants to pursue another outfielder, albeit not one of the super-premium guys.

I'm on team Kenta. The Giants are at least curious. Won't you join us?

Edit: The Giants are downplaying their interest now, but hopefully it's in a "Quiet, Bruce, you fool" kind of way.