Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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The Twins Have Maeda Deal

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A Tuesday night in the middle of NBA trade deadline week quickly turned into MLB Twitter exploding due to a blockbuster 3-team deal. After days of Boston mulling things over, apart from the Mookie Betts trade, the Dodgers and Twins worked out their own deal that looks like this.

LAD gets: RHP Brusdar Graterol, OF Luke Raley, 67th pick in 2020 draft.

MIN gets: Kenta Maeda, $10 million, a low-level prospect


To start, Kenta Maeda’s 4.04 ERA and 10-8 record in 2019 will leave the old folks of Minnesota shaking their fists. But looking further into Kenta’s numbers, he has been near the top in a lot of pitching categories. His 1.07 WHIP in 2019 and 1.15 in his career are both better than any pitcher in the Twins 2020 rotation.

His 32.3% hard-hit rate was good for 11th in the MLB among starters. (min 150 IP) His 32.5 whiff % (swing and miss) in 2019 lands him at 6th among starting pitchers. The only starter pitchers that had a better xwOBA in 2019 were Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Jacob DeGrom, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg. Maeda was the 3rd best starting pitcher in 2019 in terms of average exit velocity, behind only Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kyle Hendricks. (min 150 IP)

Since Kenta Maeda came into the league in 2016, his slider has been near the top in terms of effectiveness. In that time span, his wSL/C (the average amount of runs hitters produced against 100 sliders) is 3rd in the league. (min. 500 IP) This is a good reason why he threw this pitch 31.5% of pitches in 2019, only 2.2% less than he threw his fastball.

Kenta Maeda embarrasses right-handers. In his career, he has a 5.77 K/BB, 11.42 K/9, and a .094 WHIP against righties. These hitters hit for a measly .535 OPS against Maeda this last year. This could bode well for a Twins team that seems to find themselves up against the deadly Yankees lineup more times than they would like.

For a pitcher who has previously voiced frustration in being used too much in a bullpen role, Kenta is coming to the perfect place. The Twins are a team in desperate need of solid starters, with the number 2 or 3 starting spot looking to be a comfortable fit for Maeda to be slotted. Below are Maeda’s 2019 rankings compared to the league average (top) and his 2016-2019 K/BB compared to the league average. (bottom)

per Baseball Savant
per Fangraphs

October Baseball

For this win-now Twins team, and after an embarrassing stretch of postseason loss after postseason loss, a deal like this was absolutely necessary. Maeda is now under contract until 2023, earning just three million per year. This contract is right in the peak of this Twins’ core window. Plugging Maeda into a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2004 (0-10 since losing to the Yankees in the ’04 divisional series) is the biggest part of this trade, and here is the reason why.

Maeda has logged more postseason innings (32 ⅔) than Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, and Michael Pineda combined. In his entire postseason career, Maeda has posted a 1.19 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, and just 0.6 HR/9. (2 HR in 32 ⅔ IP) These are just the kinds of moves that make the “Twins never spend money” crowds awfully quiet.

Caleb Lindholm

I love baseball and the numbers that come from it. I write on all things Twins and analytics. Family guy, Kwik Trip guy, Minnesota fan from Wisconsin.