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Dodgers: Kenta Maeda Currently Unhappy with Role on Team

Maeda has been subject to moves from the rotation to the bullpen.

Dodgers
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24: Kenta Maeda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Kenta Maeda has been a reliable arm for the Dodgers since he came here from overseas. He gets undervalued consistently and many believe he is just a typical fifth starter — that is not the case. Maeken is a genuinely good pitcher who would be a number three on most clubs, shown by his outstanding 3.15 DRA in Los Angeles.

When the Dodgers signed him in the offseason prior to the 2016 season, nobody knew what the ramifications would be of his largely incentive-based contract. Furthermore, nobody even knew if he would cut it in the big leagues. He definitely has proven to be an above-average major league talent, but has arguably been better as a reliever than a starter. Because of this, the Dodgers have moved him to the bullpen in the preceding months to the postseason in an effort to get him ready for the role in October.

He sees it a different way, and he might not be wrong in his assessment.

According to a recent column by Andy McCullough of The Athletic, Maeda is disgruntled with his role being constantly manipulated in an effort to decrease his pay.

First of all, this does not appear to be a situation that ends well for Kenta Maeda or any of the parties involved, for that matter. The Dodgers view Kenta Maeda as a fifth starter because that is what he is for their club. If the Dodgers did not have Maeda’s production out of the starting rotation year-round, they really would not lose much as a club in terms of wins and value. They pride themselves on depth and they certainly have it. If the Dodgers lost Maeda over this situation, they would be losing starting pitching depth, sure, but they would also be losing a bonafide lockdown reliever in the postseason. We all know that they have consistently lacked in that department as a club in October.

Maeda Demonstrates Frustration to Team Officials

Kenta Maeda certainly has a reason to be upset. The Dodgers continually cut his paycheck by not allowing him to accrue enough innings to reach incentives in his contract. However, according to McCullough, Maeda has also declined to restructure his contract to fit one that is more based on relief pitching stats. Instead, he stays set in his ways and has practically demanded that he not be utilized as a reliever. This is interesting considering Maeda’s greatest successes as a pitcher in America have come out of the bullpen.

According to Joel Wolfe, Maeda’s agent, Maeda might be getting to a tipping point:

“Kenta wants to make 30 starts, 32 starts during the season. He would prefer not to be constantly shuttled to the bullpen and back. He doesn’t like it.”

Wolfe also expressed some personal distaste for Maeda’s handling, citing his excellent career overseas as a starting pitcher:

It’s been an ongoing discussion. It’s not easy, for either side. But he came over here, after winning two Sawamura Awards being a starter, and he wants to start.”

At the end of the day, Kenta Maeda is the one who put pen to paper and signed the deal with the Dodgers as it is currently constructed. He has no real right to be upset with the incentive-based nature of his contract, but he certainly has a right to be livid with the Dodgers holding him back from reaching those incentives. Still, though, the Dodgers are doing what is best for their club and it is not just good for them financially — it is an excellent move every year for their hopes of delivering a title back to Los Angeles for the first time since 1988.

Andrew Friedman Speaks on Situation

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told the media of his perspective on Maeda and how he views the right-hander:

“We think there’s actually more room for him to be even better, which we’re going to work with him on trying to tap into. And if he’s able to take that next step, not only do I see him in the rotation, I can see him potentially starting playoff games, if we’re fortunate enough to make it into October. He has been really good. And we think there’s another gear in there.”

In regards to the comments made by Joel Wolfe, Friedman had a blunt response for Maeda:

“Pitch better.”

You can’t argue with that.

Andrew Friedman also told the media that he engaged his discussions to restructure Maeda’s contract. While Adam Katz of Wasserman declined comment as a representative of Maeda, Friedman stated that “Maeda ended up declining it.”

The real issue here appears to be Kenta Maeda and his pride — not the Dodgers ‘unwillingness’ to negotiate. The Dodgers have tried and Maeda has not budged.

The ball appears to be in Maeda’s court:

“The No. 1 thing for us is to win,” Friedman said. “We feel like it’s important to communicate with our players, and not catch guys off guard. But at the end of the day, I think we have been very consistent with our messaging and ways for certain guys to earn more opportunities.”

Joel Wolfe on Trade Possibility

Joel Wolfe has discussed the possibility of the Dodgers trading Maeda to another club with Kenta Maeda himself, and it might appeal to all parties involved.

“We’ve discussed, ‘Should he be traded?’ and all that. While I think a trade might be appealing — because if he was going to another team where he would get to start for a whole season, that would be appealing to him. But his preference is to remain a Dodger, because he loves the Dodgers and their fans, and just be a full-time starter. He cares more about the role than the contract. But the contract acts somewhat as a limitation because there’s a lot of upside for the Dodgers in limiting his starts.”

Overall

How do you feel about the situation? Should the Dodgers trade Kenta Maeda or should they try to work things out with him before the season starts?

Written by Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 18 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

22 Comments

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  1. Maeda is and has been letting his ego get in the way his simplest solution is restructure the contract which he doesn’t want to do because Maeda plays for the name on the back of the Jersey more than the name on the front, when you have a player in this situation you need to nip in the ass, trade him now while you can before it becomes a bigger issue and affects other players.

  2. Solution? Pitch better. 2-5 with 5.12 ERA on the road. He’s an ok pitcher at best, number 4 starter.

  3. Don’t worry Friedman will put together an average rotation again surely Maeda can find a way on it. If they got Cole and Strasburg like they should then Maeda should be traded

      • Friedman thinks he can win a championship with Buehler Kershaw Stripling Urias and Maeda that’s the weakest playoff rotation in the tournament. We need playoff studs to win it all, guys like Cole Strasburg combined with Buehler and Gonsolin or May. No one would be able to rival that 4

        • Dodgers actually had the strongest pitching in the majors last season. You conveniently forgot to list Ryu. Stripling and Urias didn’t start in the playoffs.

          That being said, I agree that we need another top-end starter. But to claim the Dodgers hadd “the weakest rotation in the tournament” is just stupid.

          • Fool, that rotation would’ve stood no chance in the World Series but I’m talking next year anyway. Ryu isn’t coming back and Friedman in another article hinted at the idea of what he wants the rotation to be in 2020. Buehler Kershaw Urias and Stripling and Maeda trying out and Gonsolin and May as hopefuls. THAT is going to be WEAK come October I have zero faith in that group. The best playoff rotation in ALL of baseball would be Cole Strasburg Buehler and Gonsolin or May. Anything short of that is another wasted season, you watch

          • Manny Festo is a dis gruntled x fan
            He’s almost as bad as a Midget troll
            Just let him vent. No need to respond to him

  4. Kenta “Lion” Maeda (18) is a great bullpen reliever as of right now but as for a starting pitcher he is mediocre and needs work on controlling pitches and location maybe he should try pitching from the stretch instead of his windup?

  5. The funny thing about his pride is that as a reliever he would be a big name, well known. But as a starter he’s under the radar.

  6. unhappy or not as the article says he has been better in the bullpen than as a starter so why not keep him in the bullpen

  7. Maeda has flourished in the bullpen and has been average+ as a starter of late. I guess it’s difficult to get rid of the “starter only” mentality for some pitchers. When and if he comes around and sees the big picture, as well as re-structures his contract, he’ll do well.

  8. This is not a problem. He should renegotiate his contract to add relief incentives as backup and then go out put together a Ryu-like season. If he does he’ll stay in the rotation.

  9. Maeda needs to led go of his ego, restructure his contract and embrace a reliever role. Why be a mediocre starter when you could be a first rate reliever? He clearly considers relievers to be second class pitchers. If he really wants to remain a Dodger, he needs to think of how he can best help the team. Otherwise he needs to be gone.

  10. Pay the man. He has been our best post season reliever for two years. 33 billion for your TV contract and you are gonna quibble over a few million. C’mon Friedman!!!!!!

  11. As a starter Maeda is a C+ pitcher. He often can’t make it through four innings. He needs to get much stronger o4 go to the bullpen where only needs to go a couple of innings to be affective.

  12. trade madea,get cole & strasberg, rendon @ 3rd ,lindor. @s.s , kaki & lux @ 2nd, belli @ 1st, belli is tall ,has wide range,& quick trade muncy for pitchers & for gods sake trade pollicker for what you can get.no more over the hill guys. you have plenty of outfielders, and retire hill.

  13. Maeda, you signed the contract, now honor it.
    Can we trade him and Roberts for some 2 cheese burger meals from McDonald’s???? Actually lets give Roberts away and get 1 meal for Maeda.

  14. He sees Kershaw blow there chances every year in the playoffs and says hey I can be better then him. I would be mad too

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