The Los Angeles Dodgers are escalating the arms race in the NL West. The last week has seen starters Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda sign with the Dodgers. On December 30th, the club reached an agreement with Kazmir on a three-year, $48 million deal, with an opt-out clause after the 2016 season. Then, on December 31st, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Dodgers and the righty Maeda have agreed to a deal. The years and dollars are still being worked out, but it is apparently for at least five years and is heavily laden with incentives, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
The 31-year old left-handed Kazmir broke into the league in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Rays and spent the first five seasons of his career there. Since then, he has seen time with the Lon Angeles Angels, the Cleveland Indians, the Oakland Athletics, and the Houston Astros, to whom he was traded last season from the A’s.
Kazmir won just two games, while losing six, over his thirteen starts for Houston and did not pitch as well as he had been for the A’s prior to the trade. With Oakland, Kazmir recorded a 1.09 WHIP and a 2.39 ERA, which would have been the second best marks in either category in his career had he carried those numbers to the end of the season.
Over the second half, after the trade, his ERA ballooned to 4.17. In 73.1 innings with the Astros, 36.1 fewer than he had pitched for Oakland, he gave up almost twice as many home runs (thirteen to seven) and walked just eleven fewer batters (twenty-four to thirty-five). Kazmir has All-Star potential and postseason experience. If he can find his control again, the Dodgers may have gotten a steal.
Maeda, 28, has been a star in Japan over his eight-year career. He owns a career 2.39 ERA and has struck out 7.4 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.9 batters per nine. Last season, Maeda recorded a 2.09 ERA with 175 strikeouts and forty-one walks. He’s no Yu Darvish, but he is seen as an MLB-caliber talent.
The signing should come as no surprise to most; Maeda visited Chavez Ravine the week before. In addition to the contract dollar figures, the Dodgers will also have to pay the maximum $20 million posting fee to Maeda’s former team, the Hiroshima Carp. Teams had until January 8th to sign Maeda after he was put through the posting process earlier this month. Stay tuned as we wait for the details of the contract to be announced.