8-Year Incentive-Laden Contract With Maeda Good Deal for LA

Over many years, through a series of various general managers, personnel directors and owners, the Dodgers have made devastatingly bad deals signing suspect pitchers to high value and long term contracts, from Dave Goltz to Kevin Brown to Jason Schmidt, and including numerous others. Despite the great performances he provided the Dodgers, including this past season, giving Zack Greinke a six year contract at age 32 would have

been another horrible error, as was giving Scott Kazmir the three-year, $48 Million deal they signed just last week. Long term and high priced contracts for pitchers are always a major gamble, and seldom work out to the benefit of the team. Ok, maybe for the first year or two, or even three, but after that, watch out.

But, I can also say that the eight-year contract signed with 27-year-old Japanese import Kenta Maeda is actually a very good deal for the Dodgers, for one
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simple reason:The Dodgers are on the hook for actually very little, and will only be on the hook for big-time payments if and when Maeda delivers. The one big downside is his lack of major league experience, which I will not underestimate, but the money terms of the contract still make it a solid deal and only a minor gamble.

By pitching throughout each of the eight contract seasons, Maeda will earn the minimum total of $25 M, but the more he pitches, the more he earns, up to a total of $81.2 million in performance bonuses, $10.15 million each year. By making the opening day roster each season, he collects $150,000 each year. In each year he will receive $1 M when he gets to 15 starts, another $1 M when he gets to 20 starts, and $1.5 M when he gets to 25, then 30 and then 32 starts. He will also receive $250,000 each season when he reaches innings pitched totals of 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190, and $750,000 if he reaches 200 innings in a season. Should he be traded at any time during the life of the contract, that earns him $1 M each time.

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Has there EVER been such an incentive-laced contract? In ANY sport? Ever?

Of course, this type of arrangement can go bad. What if Maeda is healthy, but ineffective? What if he’s made 25 starts and pitched 160 innings, but he’s 5-12 with a 5.25 ERA? What if new Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts decides to demote him from the rotation? Ill will? Probably
not, if his performance had been that bed. But, what if it’s not that bad, say 8-8 with an ERA of 4.10, but a now healthy Brandon McCarthy has been doing well out of the bullpen and in spot starts, and Roberts believes that he should have that rotation slot over Maeda?

A lot will be determined not just by Maeda’s own performance, but also by reasonableness, but the performance of others on the staff. But all in all, a far better deal than giving Jason Schmidt $47 M, or even giving a similar figure to Scott Kazmir.

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