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Kenta Maeda not happy with how Dodgers have handled him

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Andy McCullough of The Athletic writes that Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda has informed the club that he’s unhappy with how the team has handled him.

How have they handled him? McCullough puts it succinctly for those unaware:

He prepares to be a starter during spring training. Over the course of two dozen outings, he performs like a credible member of the rotation. As summer turns to fall, the team shifts him into the bullpen, where he pitches like an elite reliever and forms part of the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

Thing is, it works for the team. But it’s also not great for Maeda personally. He makes $3 million a year on a long-term deal, and that’s way less than the value he provides. His way of making up for that when he signed the deal was building in performance bonuses into his contract that could snag him millions more each year. Specifically:

  • $1M each for 15 and 20 games started;
  • $1.5M each for 25, 30, and 32 games started;
  • $250,000 each for 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180, and 190 innings pitched; and
  • $750,000 for 200 innings pitched.

In the four seasons Maeda has had that deal — 2016 through 2019 — he has started 32, 25, 20 and 26 games, respectively. His innings over that span: 175.2, 134.1, 125.1, and 153.2. The operation of that $3 million base plus incentives means that his salary has gone from $7.25 million in 2016, down to $4.25 million in 2017, down to $3 million in 2018, and then bouncing back up to $5.4 million in 2019.

Maeda has been a somewhat more effective pitcher as a reliever than as a starter, but that would probably track for most starters. Either way, it’s a workload that Maeda, who won the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young Award twice before coming to the United States, would like to see expanded.

Given that Hyun-Jin Ryu is a free agent and may not be back, he might have a chance to see that happen this year. But then again, he has been a part of the rotation every offseason and every early season for the past four years. Starting in September and October has been another story.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.