Widely regarded as one of the best potential free agents heading into the offseason, ace right-hander Kenta Maeda will almost certainly stay in Japan for the upcoming season after his club, the Hiroshima Carp, decided not to post him, according to a report by The Japan Times.
The Carp informed Maeda of their decision on Thursday, which likely came as a disappointment to the right-hander as he's talked about his intent to pitch in the majors in the past.
The book on Maeda is that he has a low-90s fastball that reaches as high as 94 MPH and sets up his secondary pitches well. The problem is that his best off-speed pitch, his slider, isn't quite up to par for the majors (mostly because of a lack of control), especially because it's his go-to second pitch. Maeda projects as more of a back-end starter in most rotations, even if the recent success of other Japanese imports like Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish has created high expectations for pitchers coming over to the majors.
Last season, Maeda posted a 2.60 ERA with 161 strikeouts in 187 innings across 27 starts. 2015 will mark the 26-year-old's eighth season pitching in Nippon Professional Baseball, and he has an 82-59 record with a 2.44 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
Unfortunately for Maeda, he can't become an unrestricted free agent until after 2017, according to the Kyodo News' Jim Allen. He'll be approaching 30 by then, and he'll also have three more seasons under his belt—likely lessening his value by a significant amount unless he develops his secondary pitches and continues to post quality numbers with the Carp.