clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Dodgers sign Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda; Is a trade next?

Ray offers his thoughts on the fantasy impact of the Dodgers signing Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda over the last two days, and whether a trade for another right handed starter might be coming.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been made of the Dodgers allowing ace Zack Greinke to leave to sign with the Arizona Diamondbacks. To many, it was a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers were going to unload the truck and re-sign Greinke. They made him a very good offer of 5 years for $155 million, and we will probably never know how much the Giants offered, but they apparently came in second in the Greinke sweepstakes. The Diamondbacks offer of 6 years for $206.5 million was too much for the Dodgers front office, so they decided to not match or exceed the fine offer.

With the Diamondbacks adding both Greinke and Shelby Miller via trade with the Braves, and the Giants signing free agents Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, many were placing the Dodgers as an also-ran in the NL West. A third place team, as a matter of fact. But, making predictions in the middle of December is never a good thing. Sure, we all make predictions, but making predictions with so many free agents still on the market and Opening Day more than three months away, rosters can change, and the Dodgers weren't done adding to their roster.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers signed left handed starter Scott Kazmir to a three year, $48 million deal that includes an opt out after one season. This opt out makes a tom of sense for Kazmir and the Dodgers. The free agent pitching market after the 2016 season is relatively thin, with Stephen Strasburg and Brett Anderson the top two starters available. Giving Kazmir the opt out after the 2016 season allows him to make a bundle more cash via free agency next year compared to this year, and allows the Dodgers to get another draft pick after offering him the qualifying offer. This is all assuming Kazmir stays healthy and pitches like he has been over the last few seasons.

Over his last three seasons, Kazmir has made 29, 32 and 31 starts respectively, going 32-29 with ERAs ranging from 4.04 to 3.10 and his FIP in the 3.35-3.98 range. Last season, he went 7-11 in 31 starts, but records are not a very good way to measure a starting pitcher, as he pitched to a 3.10 ERA, 3.98 FIP and 4.14 xFIP, his worst FIP and xFIP over the last three seasons. The drop off can be attributed to a bad second half, where his ERA rose to 3.96 and his FIP rose to just under 5.00. His K% dropped off and he allowed more base runners in the second half as compared to the first half, so there might be some effectiveness concerns heading into the 2016 season.

That said, he pitched in O.co Stadium for much of the 2015 season before his trade to Houston last summer, and will be moving to the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, so I expect him to perform very similar to how he has performed over the last three seasons. I can see him winning 10-12 games with a mid-3.00 ERA with a K% in the 20% range. Kazmir limits the free pass and keeps the ball on the ground at a 42% rate. He is prone to the home run ball, as he gave up 20 in 183 innings last season.

There was a wide divergence between his performance pitching in Oakland vs pitching at Minute Maid Park in Houston last season:

O.co Stadium: 11 starts, 4-3, 1.75 ERA, 0.96 WHIP

Minute Maid Park: 7 starts, 2-2, 4.66 ERA, 1.61 WHIP

Whether that was ball park related or not remains to be seen, but Kazmir did put up a 3.62 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 16 starts in O.co Stadium in 2014.

Yesterday, it was reported that the Dodgers signed Japanese starter Kenta Maeda to an 8 year deal, but the money is not known at this time. What we do know is that in addition to the contract, the Dodgers have to pay a $20 millliion posting fee. And regarding the contract, it seems that it is very creative. Here is Joel Sherman from the NY Post:

Adding Maeda gives the Dodgers exactly one right-handed starter in their rotation after signing he and Kazmir. As their rotation currently stands, and this could change:

Clayton Kershaw

Scott Kazmir

Brett Anderson

Kenta Maeda

Alex Wood

In addition to that starting five, the Dodgers have Hyun-jin Ryu returning from shoulder surgery and Brandon McCarthy returning from Tommy John surgery. In addition the Dodgers have four pitching prospects in Triple-A - Julio Urias, Jose De Leon, Jharel Cotton and Zach Lee - who all could help the Dodgers at some point in 2016.

Here is a look at how Maeda has performed in his 8 year career in Japan:

Year

Age

AgeDif

Tm

W

L

ERA

RAvg

GS

IP

ER

WHIP

BB9

SO9

SO/W

2008

20

-8.2

Hiroshima

9

2

3.2

3.53

18

109.2

39

1.258

2.9

4.5

1.57

2009

21

-7.6

Hiroshima

8

14

3.36

3.82

29

193

72

1.155

1.4

6.9

5.07

2010

22

-6.2

Hiroshima

15

8

2.21

2.3

28

215.2

53

0.983

1.9

7.3

3.78

2011

23

-5

Hiroshima

10

12

2.46

2.54

31

216

59

1.023

1.8

8

4.47

2012

24

-4.4

Hiroshima

14

7

1.53

2.01

29

206.1

35

0.994

1.9

7.5

3.89

2013

25

-3.4

Hiroshima

15

7

2.1

2.36

26

175.2

41

0.962

2

8.1

3.95

2014

26

-2.4

Hiroshima

11

9

2.6

2.94

27

187

54

1.096

2

7.7

3.93

2015

27

Hiroshima

15

8

2.09

2.14

29

206.1

48

1.013

1.8

7.6

4.27

All Levels (8 Seasons)

97

67

2.39

2.64

217

1509.2

401

1.048

1.9

7.4

3.87

For comparison purposes, here are stats for Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka when he pitched in Japan:

Year

Age

AgeDif

Tm

W

L

ERA

RAvg

GS

IP

ER

WHIP

BB9

SO9

SO/W

2007

18

-10.2

Rakuten

11

7

3.82

4.01

28

186.1

79

1.347

3.3

9.5

2.88

2008

19

-9.1

Rakuten

9

7

3.49

3.7

24

172.2

67

1.303

2.8

8.3

2.94

2009

20

-7.8

Rakuten

15

6

2.33

2.42

24

189.2

49

1.123

2

8.1

3.98

2010

21

-7.3

Rakuten

11

6

2.5

2.73

20

155

43

1.232

1.9

6.9

3.72

2011

22

-6.2

Rakuten

19

5

1.27

1.39

27

226.1

32

0.875

1.1

9.6

8.93

2012

23

-5.1

Rakuten

10

4

1.87

2.34

22

173

36

1.035

1

8.8

8.89

2013

24

-3.8

Rakuten

24

0

1.27

1.49

27

212

30

0.943

1.4

7.8

5.72

Foreign (7 seasons)

Foreign

99

35

2.3

2.51

172

1315

336

1.108

1.9

8.5

4.5

As you can see, Tanaka and Maeda are very comparable pitchers, with both limiting the free pass, while Tanaka striking out more hitters than Maeda. Tanaka is a near ace in the big leagues, so I can see Maeda being more a third or fourth starter for the Dodgers.

For those of you who don't know much about Kenta Maeda, here is what you need to know about his repertoire, a scouting report from Eric Longenhagen from ESPN:

Maeda's fastball will sit in the 87-92 mph range. It has touched a bit higher in the past but will likely do so less frequently as he moves from pitching once a week to every fifth day. His repertoire is deep, as is the case for most Japanese exports, featuring a heavily used slider, changeup, cutter and curveball. The slider has been front and center among those, used around 25 percent of the time in PITCHf/x charted outings; its velocity sits in the low 80s and is generally considered average to above-average by scouts in the Pacific Rim. The changeup has come along lately and flashed as a plus pitch during this autumn's Premier 12 event. Pitchers with short, quick arm actions like Maeda's tend to develop some kind of useful changeup eventually, so it is not unreasonable to think what scouts saw late this year will stick and his changeup will be consistently above average. The cutter and low-70s curveball are fringe and below-average pitches respectively.

Ben Badler from Baseball America watched Maeda's last two starts vs Mexico and Puerto Rico and noted that he showed much improvement in his change up, matching what Longenhagen mentioned in his report above:

In those two starts€, particularly his first start against Mexico€, Maeda's changeup was a plus pitch. At times, the pitch had good sink, at others it had excellent fade, and sometimes it had both. Against Mexico, it was a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch in the low-to-mid 80s, including one at-bat in which he struck out a righthanded hitter who swung through three straight changeups.

"I didn't think his slider was very good that day (against Mexico), but his changeup was nasty," said one scout. "He was throwing it to righthanders and lefthanders. To me, that was his best pitch."

A pitcher with that repertoire, fastball command and track record could more comfortably profile as a No. 3 starter and increase his demand among teams looking to upgrade their rotation.

Pitchers coming over from Japan and Korea tend to be undervalued on draft day, so Maeda could outperform his draft day value in auctions and re-draft leagues in 2016. We have seen several pitchers, Tanaka, Ryu and others, who were given less than glowing scouting reports after they signed to only outperform their expectations, and I can see Maeda doing the same, especially pitching in Dodger Stadium and against National League opponents, 5-6 of which are in rebuild or near-rebuild stages right now.

The additions of Kazmir and Maeda provide the Dodgers with the depth and prospects to make a deal for another right-handed starter to balance out their rotation, that currently consists of four lefties. Rumors persist that the Dodgers are still talking to the Rays and Marlins for a pitching upgrade. Names mentioned are Jake Odorizzi and Jose Fernandez, with of which would be upgrades to the Dodgers rotation.

I could see the Dodgers making an offer that includes Alex Wood, Jose De Leon, Alex Verdugo and Austin Barnes in a package for Fernandez, and a similar package to the Rays for Odorizzi. That said, the price for Fernandez would exceed the price for Odorizzi.

Will Odorizzi or Fernandez wear a Dodgers uniform on Opening Day 2016?