Kenta Maeda
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Kenta Maeda requested trade from Dodgers

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New Twins starter Kenta Maeda posted a video on YouTube in which he says that he asked the Dodgers for a trade (h/t to Dylan Hernandez for the translation). Maeda eventually got his wish when he was traded to Minnesota just before the start of camp.

The news is hardly shocking. Maeda had been with the Dodgers since 2016, when he made the jump to MLB from the Japanese league. He signed an eight-year deal with a base salary of just $25 million, with a lot more money being tied up in performance incentives. The full details of Maeda’s deal can be found here at Cot’s Baseball Contracts (a fantastic resource) but basically, Maeda gets fairly substantial bonuses tied to both the number of games he starts and the amount of innings he pitches. It’s exactly the sort of contract that the MLBPA doesn’t like to see. Baseball money is guaranteed, except in deals like this one.

So, lo and behold, the Dodgers started limiting the number of games Maeda worked as a starter, instead deploying him more and more often as a reliever. And to be clear, Maeda’s damn good when he’s coming out of the bullpen. He’s been used that way in the playoffs for the last few years, and he’s been great. Yet by all accounts, Maeda made it clear to the Dodgers that he wanted to be a starter. Being a starter is a point of pride for pitchers, and moreover, that’s how he gets his money.

Players are expected to do what’s necessary for the team to win, but there’s also an expected amount of good faith that goes into the relationships between players and teams. It sure looks like the uber-wealthy Dodgers jerked Maeda around to save some cash. It’s no wonder that he was unhappy there, and it’s no wonder that he requested a trade.

This sort of cynical philosophy is right up the Dodgers’ alley. The new IL rule (10 days for position players, 15 for pitchers) was basically created to stop the Dodgers from fudging IL stints for their pitchers to conserve innings and draw on their considerable depth at Triple-A. They’re the brain geniuses who gave us crimes.xlsx. Of course they used Maeda’s contract against him.

The Twins are going to use Maeda in the rotation, which means he should have every chance to hit those incentives. And not for nothing, he gets to do that with a team that won more than 100 games last year, just like the Dodgers.

Good for him. Hopefully the Twins don’t start playing with his earnings too.

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Braves ace Mike Soroka out for year with torn Achilles

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Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka is out for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon Monday night against the New York Mets.

Soroka was hurt in the third inning after delivering a pitch to J.D. Davis, who grounded the ball toward first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag, only to go down on his first step off the mound. The right-hander knew right away it was a devastating injury, one that ensures he won’t be back on the mound until 2021.

“It’s a freak thing that happened,” manager Brian Snitker said, delivering the grim news after the Braves lost 7-2 to the Mets. “I’m sorry it did.”

Soroka yelled in obvious pain and tried to walk gingerly for a couple of steps before dropping to his knees. He couldn’t put any weight on the leg as he was helped toward the clubhouse with the assistance of Snitker and a trainer.

It was a major blow to the two-time defending NL East champion Braves, who had won five straight despite struggling to put together an effective rotation.

“Somebody else is going to get an opportunity,” Snitker said. “Things like that happen. These guys will regroup. Somebody is going to get an opportunity to do something really good. Our young guys are going to continue to get better. We’re going to be fine.”

Soroka, who turns 23 on Tuesday, made his first opening day start last month after going 13-4 with a dazzling 2.68 ERA in 2019 to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting and sixth for the Cy Young Award.

Soroka was making his third start of the season. He came in having allowed just two earned runs over 11 1/3 innings but struggled against the Mets, giving up three hits and four walks. He was charged with four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career.

Unfortunately for Soroka, he won’t get a chance to make up for it this season.