Chicago Cubs: Another free agent option presents itself in Kenta Maeda


In case, you didn’t know already, the Chicago Cubs have signed only three Japanese-born players in franchise history. The first was outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, who didn’t really pan out and later found himself with the Chicago White Sox.

Just a few years later, they signed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa who made his major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His stint with the Cubs wouldn’t last long when he needed to undergo Tommy John Surgery and was unable to find his groove.

The Texas Rangers rolled the dice on the 35-year-old right-hander by signing him to a one-year deal, only to release him a year after he injured his arm. He is back in Japan, pitching for the Hanshin Tigers.

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And then you have young right-hander Tsuyoshi Wada. Wada made his debut with a handful of other prospects such as Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks, and Javier Baez during the 2014 campaign.

After missing out on David Price and Zack Greinke likely to land with either the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants, Johnny Cueto appeared to be a huge target for the Cubs.

Now according to Yahoo Sports, 27-year-old Kenta Maeda has been cleared to negotiate with major league teams who are willing to pay a fee of $20 million.

Most might think that the fee to negotiate for 30 days, but once you take a look at his numbers, it’ll be completely worth it. The young right-hander carries a 97-67 record with a 2.39 ERA and 1,233 strikeouts on top of winning a handful of awards.

Maeda made his Nippon debut with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in 2008, winning a Best Nine Award, three Gold Gloves, two Eiji Sawamura Awards (top pitcher), and was named an NPB All-Star three times while being named the MVP of that game in 2012.

If either the Dodgers or Giants miss out on Greinke, they’ll likely join the pool of teams looking to sign him. The Arizona Diamondbacks attempted to sign Cueto, but he declined their deal, so they could either give it a second shot or become the front-runner for Maeda.

Just don’t count out Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.