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Kenta Maeda's incentive-laden contract limits Dodgers' risk

Kenta Maeda addresses reporters, with Andrew Friedman looking on.
Kenta Maeda addresses reporters, with Andrew Friedman looking on.
Photo: Jon SooHoo | LA Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- New Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda was introduced to the media in Los Angeles on Thursday, after his eight-year, $25 million contract was finalized. Should Maeda remain healthy and reach all of his incentives, Maeda can earn up to a total of $106.2 million over the life of the contract.

Right off the bat, Maeda acknowledged what his interpreter said were "irregularities" in his physical that were factored into his contract, limiting his market and ultimately lowering his overall guarantee. When pressed, Maeda wouldn't address specific questions about his physical or his elbow, but did say he expected to be healthy enough to pitch in 2016 and beyond.

"I played in Japan for nine years and never left the team for a long period of time because of injury," Maeda said. "I'm not worried about this season at all. I'm confident I'll be able to pitch."

Maeda will receive a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $3 million annually from 2016-2023, per Bill Shaikin of the LA Times.

"It's certainly an unusual structure, and a lot of it stems from the physical process that he underwent on his own even before we even engaged in negotiations," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on MLB Network. "From that point forward, we tried to figure out a way to share in the risk, share in the reward, and it led us to this."

Maeda can earn up to $81.2 million in performance bonuses, $10.15 million each year based on games started and innings pitched, and being on the opening day roster, per the Associated Press:

  • Maeda will receive $150,000 each year for making the opening day active 25-man roster.
  • He will receive $1 million for each of 15 and 20 starts, and $1.5 million for each of 25, 30 and 32 starts.
  • Maeda each year will earn $250,000 for each of 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings pitched, and $750,000 for 200 innings.
  • In addition, Maeda receives a $1 million bonus each time he is traded.

Maeda averaged 28 starts and 200 innings over the last seven seasons in Japan.

The Dodgers owe a release fee of $20 million to Maeda's old team, the Hiroshima Carp. Per the MLB working agreement with NPB, the payout of that fee will be spread over 18 months. The Dodgers will pay $10 million by Jan. 21, $3.4 million by July 7, $3.4 million by Jan. 7, 2017, and $3.2 million by July 7, 2017. The release fee will not count against the competitive balance tax.

Counting Maeda's signing bonus and the $13.4 million of the release fee the Dodgers will pay Hiroshima in 2016, the Dodgers this year have $189.79 million committed to 18 players, including 16 players on the 40-man roster.