Just before the calendar flipped from 2015 to 2016, we learned that the Dodgers had won the bidding war for Kenta Maeda; although according to several reports, it was more of a bidding tussle than a full-out war. Due to concerns surrounding Maeda's elbow, his market wasn't as robust as expected. As a result, he wound up with a contract worth $25 million in guaranteed salary, but with significant incentives.
Up until today, the exact nature of the incentives were unknown, but thanks to Jeff Passan, the details are now public.
Sources: Kenta Maeda's deal w/ Dodgers has $3M/year salary for eight seasons. Annual bonuses up to $8.15M. Max value of the deal is $90.2M.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2016
Once Maeda reaches 90 IP, he gets $250K for every 10 IP up to 200 ($3M total). He also gets $1M for 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th and 32nd starts.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2016
Assuming that Maeda is healthy, and an effective starter worthy of a rotation spot, his incentives should be fairly easy to hit. Using his 2015 JPCL season as an example, Maeda would have earned an additional $5.75 million, as he threw 206.1 innings, and made 29 total starts. If Maeda can make 32 starts a year, he'll add $5 million to his guaranteed salary, regardless of the number of innings pitched.
An interesting aspect of this deal is that all the incentives are tied to Maeda being in the rotation. If over time, the Dodgers realize that he's not built to be a starter in the major leagues, and would be better suited as a reliever, Maeda's potential earnings would crater.
Without an opt-out clause, the Dodgers have an incredible amount of control over Maeda, and a significant amount of leverage if they were to ever put him on the trade block. $25 million is a life changing amount of money, but it's hard not to get the feeling that Maeda was taken for a ride.