Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, citing a Japanese media source, reports that Kenta Maeda was at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, Christmas Eve. As he notes, the deadline for Maeda to sign is January 8.
The Dodgers have yet to bolster a starting rotation that lost Zack Greinke. They appeared to sign Hisashi Iwakuma, but backed out of a deal after seeing the results of his physical. Iwakuma then signed back with the Mariners. Maeda, no doubt, would be a useful addition. The Dodgers would have to pay the Hiroshima Carp — Maeda’s team — $20 million for the right to negotiate, and then they would have to come to terms on a contract. If Maeda and the Dodgers aren’t able to reach an agreement, the Dodgers would get their $20 million back.
Maeda, 27, has spent all eight seasons with Hiroshima in the Japan Central League. He has a career 2.39 ERA with 1,233 strikeouts and 319 walks in 1,509 2/3 innings. Though the numbers are impressive, the competition in Japan isn’t nearly as good as it is in the majors. Per the Davenport Translations, Maeda’s 2.09 ERA and 175/41 K/BB ratio over 206 1/3 innings last season comes out to 4.09 and 110/51 in the majors.
Along with Maeda, the Dodgers have expressed interest in free agent lefties Scott Kazmir and Wei-Yin Chen.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.
Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.
Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.
The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.