Boston Red Sox Rumor: Team Could Be Going After Japanese Ace Kenta Maeda

The Boston Red Sox are rumored to be making a run at of the most intriguing free agents this year, the 26-year-old Japanese pitching ace Kenta Maeda.

Maeda has been a standout for the Hiroshima Carp and the Nippon League, and is now set to be one of the most sought after pitchers in the offseason.

Kenta Maeda may not have the hype of other Japanese exports like Hideki Irabu or Daisuke Matsuzaka, but is seen as a solid MLB prospect and likely a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a rotation. He was 11-8 with a 2.56 ERA in 179 innings over 26 starts with the Hiroshima Carp last season, and over his seven season in the Japan Central League had a 2.43 ERA.

Ben Badler of Baseball America scouted Maeda in the Nippon League, writing that he “flash[ed] three average or better pitches with good fastball command.” Badler predicted that Maeda would draw plenty of interest in the MLB, and reports from Japan indicate that Maeda could land a six-year contract worth $120-$130 million.

As Jeff Todd of notes, the Boston Red Sox are likely in the market for rotation help, and Maeda represents a good option.

“It remains to be seen if the Red Sox will pursue two new starters to fill the other two rotation spots, or if they’ll rely on internal options for one spot and then go for an ace. It seems likely the Sox will bid on Kenta Maeda if the Japanese right-hander is posted, so he could account for one slot. If the Red Sox look for a more proven ace, the biggest names on the free agent market are Max Scherzer, James Shields and ex-Boston playoff hero Lester; all will command big salaries, but team chairman Tom Werner recently said that the Sox are more than able to spend this offseason.”

The interest appears to be mutual. Kenta Maeda has noted that the Boston Red Sox are at the top of his list, along with their rival New York Yankees.

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