Kenta Maeda Apparently Unhappy with Late-Season Moves to Bullpen

(Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

Seemingly, gone are the days when a players is content with contributing at any position on the field, so long as it ultimately makes his team function as a better unit.

One of the first stories I put together this offseason surrounded my opinion regarding how effective righty Kenta Maeda has been as a reliever compared to a starter. In reality, the numbers are actually quite staggering. However, despite his success throwing out of the bullpen, Maeda has expressed his displeasure about being bumped annually from the starting rotation, specifically to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

Andy McCullough of The Athletic unveiled a piece this week reporting the news. In the story, McCullough revealed that Friedman told Maeda to find “another gear” if he wanted to cement himself in the starting rotation. What’s more, McCullough also indicated that both sides have discussed the possibility of Maeda being traded to another club, allowing him to exclusively focus on a starting role.

Despite Maeda’s frustrations, McCullough’s tone suggested that both sides still hold a somewhat friendly relationship. Consequently, it was explained that Maeda isn’t necessarily concerned as much about the money and his contract as he is with his role as a starter.

“He cares more about the role than the contract,” Maeda’s agent, Joel Wolfe, told McCullough. “But the contract acts somewhat as a limitation because there’s a lot of upside for the Dodgers in limiting his starts.”

As far as his performances go, the 31-year-old native of Japan just keeps getting better when he throws in relief, in spite of his desire to start.

In the 2019 NLDS against the Nationals, Maeda was absolutely brilliant. So much so that he was hands-down the team’s best option out of the bullpen. Over four appearances and 4-2/3 scoreless innings pitched, he allowed just one hit while striking out seven.

It was a common occurrence to see his fastball hit 95 MPH. And, his slider looked more effective and filthier than ever.

Lifetime as a starter, Maeda has logged 103 games and has produced a 3.92 ERA, a 1.163 WHIP and a 9.6 K/9. In comparison, over 34 career regular-season appearances as a reliever, he has tallied a 3.18 ERA with a .992 WHIP and a 12.3 K/9.

Speaking of the playoffs, here’s the crazy part: In 22 career relief appearances during the postseason, he has a miniscule 1.64 ERA with 27 strikeouts over an even 22 innings of work. In the playoffs as a starter, he has a 7.83 ERA over 10-2/3 innings.

Based on those numbers, some feel that Friedman has been sympathetic to Maeda for giving him the number of regular-season starts he has.

During his four-year tenure as a Dodger, Kenta has made 32, 25, 20 and 26 starts, respectively. His high innings count was 175-2/3 during his freshman campaign in 2016. His low was 125-1/3 in 2018.

In addition to his $3 million base salary, Maeda earns $1 million for each of 15 and 20 starts, and $1.5 million for each of 25, 30 and 32 starts. Furthermore, he earns $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 my story on Friday, I stated how Maeda is expected to be an anchor of the 2020 Los Angeles starting rotation, but if the reality regarding a trade begins to gain any momentum, there could be chance that the right-hander lands with another team, especially if the Dodgers score a top-tier starting pitcher this winter through a trade or free agency.


54 thoughts on “Kenta Maeda Apparently Unhappy with Late-Season Moves to Bullpen

    1. We’ve been discussing this for hours already. The new stats are good to read, but I think it’s safe to say ANY starter could cue it up for 1 inning. Ok, ok, obviously not ANY starter, but think about how hard a guy like Buehler could throw it if he only went 1 inning every time out. I think it’s likely Maeda feels he should pace himself if he’s going to last 6, and that’s why his first inning ERA is so inflated. “Find another gear” is a weird way saying don’t wait til the second inning to warm up.

      This isn’t that hard a call for me. He doesn’t want to be a reliever for the Dodgers late season, the Dodgers don’t want to trade assets for a late inning reliever late season……. trade Maeda for a late inning reliever and sign Wheeler or Cole to take his place in the rotation.


      What’s next?

      1. Who are we trading him for? I want a list of possibilities please. I will then pick someone. The rest of you will just have to be satisfied with my pick. I will try not to let you down.

      2. Hey, I’m the idea man. I expect your pick to be well researched. Giles? Hand? Yates? Diekman? Iglesias? Emilio Pagan? I don’t know. I haven’t got time to research it. Game coming on soon.

      3. I agree that something needs to be done. I am watching the Labor day game against the Rockies. I did not realize that it was the first start of the year for Pollock in LF. Seemed to me he was out there earlier than that. It was also the MLB debut of Gavin Lux. Buehler started the game.

  1. Why would I do that? I am a So Cal guy. If I were going to watch anything it would be USC-Cal, which is on FS-1.

      1. That’s my Alma Mater you’re disparaging sir.
        I never said they were good. Doesn’t mean I can’t root them on to victory. Rah rah and all that sorta stuff.

      2. I got a letter from Cal. A friend of mine I played baseball with went there. He was a defensive back/punt returner in the late 60s. I’m a Pac 8-10-12 guy so I root for all of them…but ‘cept Colorado. Got no love for Colosucko. Don’t much care for Utah either. Those 2 teams in the Pacific Conference? Don’t think so. Would rather see Fresno and San Diego State than those two teams.

      3. I can see you’re a real geographic purist Scoop. Labels mean something! Ain’t that right?

      4. Labels? I guess so. How you spose to tell what’s in the package without a label.

        I understand it’s about money. The Big 8 just wasn’t making any money, but at one time it was a powerhouse of football. After I got out of the service I wanted to play for Nebraska. I can’t explain why, I just did. So I went back there, in ‘69, and played at a JC in hopes of getting a scholarship. Didn’t work out, but I really enjoyed playing there. Our JC Conference, Midwest I believe it was called, played 4 Junior Colleges ranked in the Top 20 nationally. It was outstanding football being played back there then. In my opinion Colorado should still be in that Conference.

    1. Why not UCLA?

      You live in Bumscrew Colorado. I thought maybe two Colorado teams would be of interest to you.

      I’ll start watching SC. Doubt I can stay awake for it.

      1. Never liked UCLA. I was a huge John McKay guy, SC had better players. Bumscrew? doubt there is a town here named that,

      2. I almost went to UCLA. Joined the Marines instead. Great move, huh? Clearly I didn’t have the mental acuity required to attend a first rate university like UCLA.

  2. I loved John Wooden and UCLA had some great basketball teams that kept my interest in basketball until the Lakers finally got off of the schnide. Sorry Jefe. Cal has just never been a school I cared for much. They did have some good teams for a while, just like Stanford used to be one of the leagues cup cakes. Both are good schools. But an LA boy has to love his hometown team.

    1. Cal has rarely had good football teams but we’ve had some very good qbacks, a number of whom had good NFL careers: Aaron Rodgers, Craig Morton, Joe Kapp, Steve Bartkowski, Vince Ferragamo among others.

  3. I have new found respect for you Dennis. Rugby is a “man’s game”. When I was at Cal, our football teams were always lousy but for some reason our rugby teams were good. Fun sport to watch.
    Anybody out there ever see a hurling match? I had heard of it but actually saw a little of one on tv the other day. Incredible. Like a combo of soccer, football and baseball. They whack a ball that is as hard as a baseball with a wooden stick trying to get it into the opponents goal, sometimes with no distance between the players, and no one wears any padding. Apparently very big in Ireland.

    1. I played some rugby. EVERYBODY that played that game had drain bamage. Those guys were flat out nuts. Curling? Yeah, done that too. I used to curl 50 pounds. Use 20 pounders now. Low weight high reps at my age. Wait, what? Sticks? You don’t curl sticks. Only girls curl sticks.

      1. Yup, I can see the drain bamage. I’ll swing by and take you to that doctor’s appointment tomorrow. There’s still hope for you my friend.

      2. Did you play football also? It seems to me that a lot of rugby guys are also football guys. That’s why I thought it was strange that Cal had a crappy football team but a very good rugby team.

      3. I played baseball until my junior year in college while my school was still independent and had no scholarships. Once we joined the Atlantic 10 Conference, 20 athletic scholarships went into effect. I ended up getting cut—-players were coming in from everywhere, it seemed.

  4. I hope everyone who came here today looking for some good free agent conversation is being entertained by the rugby, football, hurling and curling comments. 🙂

    1. It’s the off season. We are entitled to be a bit off this time of year. I think it’s even expected of us.

  5. You boys have really gone off the rails. Drinking green beer or something? SC manhandled Cal, so I am happy. But I think no matter what, Helton is still on the hot seat unless they can win against UCLA and then win a bowl game. Doing both of those would get them to 9-4 for the year. He might save his job doing that. Of course that is up to the new AD at USC. More scandal stuff coming out. Seems one of the Stros execs brought up the camera idea to some scouts. Some were appalled at the idea, and others intrigued. Unlike you guys, I have no endearing qualities, I am just a grumpy old Bear.

    1. SC needs to be in the playoff conversation. 9-4 ain’t gonna get it. I think Helton is toast.

      You have a quality Bear – you can play music. After that, yeah, you’re probably right.

      1. Yep, music is my passion and something I was born to do. Becoming a grumpy Bear has come with age. Being fed up with a lot of the BS that goes on. As for SC, they need to win both of their remaining games to do that. I agree Helton is toast. I wish Friedman was too.

      2. Be careful what you wish for Bear. The next GM might be far worse.
        I’d like to know what kind of move by AF would surprise you this year. I realize that Cole, Strasburg or Rendon would be a major surprise to you. What about Donaldson or Wheeler or Madbum or Castellanos?
        Are you basically figuring he might sign a broken down starter and a couple of midstream bullpen guys and anything else would shock you?

      3. I do not ever take the safe approach when it comes to baseball. Friedman is not the GM, he is the president of baseball operations. They do not have a GM. All the main decisions as to personnel are in his lap. He has done some good things, and some not so good. He inherited a very good team. His modus operandi seems to be addition by subtraction. A surprise? Well, if he pulled the trigger on a out of the box trade that actually improved the team. Castellano’s is a defensive question mark. Donaldson on a short term deal makes sense. No way he signs Madbum. If they went for Wheeler, I would be totally surprised since it entails losing a draft pick and brings them closer to the Tax.

      4. Well for balance in the rotation, I would take Wheeler. But Ryu is comfortable here, and he knows the organization. I like Hyun, always have. And I think if AF spends any money on a free agent, it would be his own, no draft pick loss.

      5. Why Castellanos? He put up 2.7 WAR in 615 at bats. Verdugo put up 3.1 WAR in 343 at bats. Pederson put up 3.3 WAR in 450 at bats. Taylor 2.4 WAR in 366 at bats. We also have Kiké and Pollock. Our outfield doesn’t need Castellanos. We need pitching, and we need to decide how Muncy fits on this team.

  6. All three of clowns are off more than a little, all year round, but today you are outshining yourselves. 😀

  7. I am working on a new song that I wrote. I have a friend here in town who has a nice little recording set up on his computer. We finished a rough cut the other day and he sent me the song with some guitar tracks added. Sounds pretty good right now. It is dedicated to the homeless Vets.

      1. I would think the best way to help Scoop is to find some charity in your area that is dedicated to helping Vets. We have a real Veteran homeless problem here in Colorado. Most of them are in Denver. When I used to take Rick to the old VA hospital downtown, they would sleep in the lobby, and on the grounds of the hospital. The new hospital complex that was recently completed is on Colfax out towards Aurora. It is linked with the University hospital. Really no place there that they can do that. And the Colorado legislature has not really addressed the issue.

      2. I’m already very linked in with disabled veterans. If I can help you, shoot me an email.

  8. Personally, I do not care what they do with Maeda. I no longer get attached to players. I might really like one, or dislike the way he is played, but I have not had a favorite since they traded Piazza.

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