Dodgers’ Signing Kenta Maeda Makes Sense Now, And in Future

What does the Maeda contract mean for future contracts with players who are similarly situated?   

Are the Dodgers turning to professional golfers and race car drivers as examples of signing better deals? Unlikely, but it is of note that in the sports of golf and racing, athletes typically make 70-90% of their income from sponsorships, not from “team” pay or winnings. For the most part, as opposed to individual sports like golf and racing, labor unions in the five major sports (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer) have driven up the price of talent.

On the other hand, owners have tried to get creative in signing more talent, while saving money. The ways teams, especially the Dodgers, have tried to obtain more talent with less overall spending is exciting and interesting. (Example: Cuban and Dominican player development and signings). That being said, do you think Kenta Maeda will have sponsorship opportunities in Los Angeles? We think so. Very much so.kenta-maeda

As a fun exercise, imagine a player who has disappointed performance-wise. Then think about how much guaranteed money he was paid. Now think about how great it would have been to save that money because the player did not perform (and to use that money saved on another player). At least from a team management/front office perspective, this would be a dream situation. Well, the above situation is exactly what the Dodgers have done by signing Kenta Maeda to a long-term incentive-laden contract.

Supposedly Maeda was so honest and honorable in negotiating the contract with his representation that he subjected himself to a private physical before beginning such talks to show where he was at physically.  We like his character already.

At some point during or after the expiration of the next Basic Agreement in 2016, we can see the Players Union pushing to limit incentive-laden deals. However, what we may end up seeing is a compromise where players with a certain level of service time in the majors are exempt from incentives and receive guaranteed contracts. On the other hand, unproven talent would be subject to incentives in their contracts as opposed to guaranteed minimums. The negotiations will be interesting. All we can hope for is a full season and no player strikes in 2017 and beyond.

To repeat, why did the Dodgers sign Kenta Maeda? 

The Dodgers did their homework. We know that pitchers have an issue of breaking down.  Instead of buying top of the market talent for top dollar, the Dodgers purchased top foreign talent under an incentive-laden deal. Then the Dodgers stocked the farm system and front office with lots of talent.

The above statement comes on the heels of the Dodgers hiring Former Toronto Blue Jays General Manager and 2015 Executive of the Year Alex Anthopoulos, who is now Vice President of Baseball Operations. His title would suggest that he is reporting directly to Andrew Friedman, President of Baseball Operations, but above, on the managerial chart, of General Manager Farhan Zaidi. The hiring of Anthopoulos brings the sixth former general manager into the Dodgers front office talent pool, which now includes: Andrew Freidman (Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays), Alex Anthopoulos (Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays), Farhan Zaidi (Dodgers, Oakland Athletics), Josh Byrnes (Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and Arizona Diamondbacks), Ned Colletti (Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco Giants), and Gerry Hunsicker (Dodgers, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, and Houston Astros).

Maeda, the entire team, and the Dodgers front office will be exciting to watch in 2016.

NEXT: Jansen, Tuner Others File for Arbitration

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Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.


  1. It is going to be interesting going forward in 2017 and beyond what the Dodgers decide to do with the young pitchers and the older pitchers they have under their control. With Ryu, Maeda, Wood and McCarthy still under contract for 2018 and I would assume Urias, Cotton, DeLeon, Holmes, Montas, and others coming up I would imagine they will have plenty of trade chips to get position players we lack in the Minor League. 
    We should also have a surplus of Catchers with Barnes, Farmer and Deleon coming up now and in a few years…
    They should end up with a very inexpensive payroll as it will be mostly home grown and make a ton of money. 
    Hopefully they will stay competitive…. 
    I would assume Kershaw opts out in 2018. Not going to guess if they re-sign him as he will be 30 and after multi year I would think…

  2. Tmaxster now I can see a method to  what I first seen as madness. A good farm system will be great. That area has been neglected for years under previous FO’s but a little pain comes with this. I don’t  want them to give our youth  away for someone who has already peaked out like the Phillies did by aquiring Halladay and Cliff Lee.

  3. Robert Hamilton  Tmaxster Robert yes I agree with you. Pitchers are so difficult to forecast and so prone to injury it is really a gamble. That is why I think it is smart to load up on young pitchers and trade for other positions if needed.
    My concern with this Front Office is so far I do not have much faith in their trading prowess. For as smart as they are reputed to be they have not had any clean winners. 
    The last big trade to Atlanta for Latos etc was terrible. I am not fond of the Gordon trade or the Heaney trade after it. The Dodgers traded a young left handed power arm that looks to be very good, Heaney, for one year of Kendrick how sad is that?
    These guys seems to be really good playing Fantasy Baseball, setting up for more draft picks, grabbing guys on and off the waiver wire but it has had no impact and is really silly in my book. I thought it is incredible they picked up Heisey to begin with and then they traded for him again and he was still ineffective. They certainly do not judge pitchers well, McCarthy, Johnson etc…
    They truly worry me. I think it is a great plan for the organization not so sure for the fans..

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