Analysis: Twins acquire Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers

Twins give up a good prospect to "win now"

Lindsey Peterson
February 05, 2020 - 9:58 am
Kenta Maeda

(Getty Images / Harry How / Staff)

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The Twins made a major move overnight, trading one of their best pitching prospects for a proven arm who will help bolster the team's starting rotation early in 2020.

As part of a blockbuster deal that sent AL MVP Mookie Betts, and 2012 Cy Young winning pitcher David Price from Boston to the Dodgers, the Twins added pitcher Kenta Maeda.  Maeda is a Japanese player who spent the last four seasons in L.A.

RELATED: Twins trade for pitcher as part of Red Sox and Dodger blockbuster.

Maeda, while primarily a bullpen pitcher for the Dodgers, will proably begin the season as a spot starter for the Twins while Michael Pineda sits out his drug suspension.  Maeda is a quality arm who went 47-35 with a very respectable 3.87 ERA in Los Angeles.  He's also known as a durable arm, has never been hurt despite providing a lot of innings both in Japan and with the Dodgers. 

Known as a pitcher who can get strikeouts (641 career K's), Maeda gives the Twins a dependable pitcher following the disappointing performace of the staff in the 2019 postseason.  He also is no stranger to postseason success, and has pitched under the pressure of a couple of World Series appearances.

It comes as a price, of course.  

The Twins parted ways with Brusdar Graterol, who they drafted as a 16-year old in 2014.  He was among the team's top prospects.  Originally from Venezuelan, the righty is just 21-years old and made his debut last September in the big leagues.  Graterol easily throws his fastball in the triple digits but has also had a few injury issues, including undergoing elbow surgery in 2016.  

Graterol was listed as Bleacher Report's 35th best prospect in baseball, saying he is "one of the game's most exciting young arms".  But, they also worried about his ability to stay healthy and reach his full potential.  He'll now get that chance in Los Angeles.  

Here's what the Twins' staff could look like, as we're now just days away from reporting to Fort Myers for Spring Training.

Starters
Jose Berrios
Jake Odorizzi
Homer Bailey
Michael Pineda (note: drug suspension will keep him out until May)
TBD

Berrios, Odorizzi and Bailey are probably locks at this point.  Pineda will be once he returns in mid-May.  Until then, it could be a hodgepodge with Rich Hill coming off rehab (he won't be ready by opening day).  Maeda will be a possibilty to start early in the season, plus a combination of young arms like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smetlzer and Lewis Thorpe getting opprotunities.  

Is this rotation better than 2019?  From a depth perspective, no question.  There's still no front-line starter, or ace.  But if Berrios can improve and be more consistent, and Odorizzi repeat his career-best performance from 2019, the pitching staff will definitely be better.  This trade bolsters an emerging staff of pitchers and gives it more of a "win now" attitude.  And with a couple of different moves, they have answered one of our biggest offeseason questions about who we can expect to start for this team. 

Bullpen
Taylor Rodgers
Sergio Romo
Kenta Maeda
Trevor May
Zack Littell
Tyler Duffey
Tyler Clippard
Ryan Harper
Cody Stashak

What was thought to be a weakness at the start of 2019 became a strength.  More depth, and a few of the young pitchers growing some will make the Twins bullpen really solid.  Rodgers, Romo, Maeda, May, Littell and Duffey would appear to be bullpen locks.  Clearly, Rodgers, Romo and eventually Maeda will give the team late inning options to get outs (and strikeouts) in big games, and hopefully the postseason. 

There are a couple of spots up for grabs between a bunch of arms.  Clippard, Harper and Stashak have the most experience, but look for Fernando Romero and Matt Wisler to get chances along the way.  

There is a lot more pitching depth than there was to start 2019.  Add in free agent slugger Josh Donaldson and this is a better baseball team on paper.  If the Twins hit like we think they'll hit, this should be another exciting run towards a division title and the playoffs again.  

Spring Training kicks off next week, with our first broadcasts just a couple of weeks away.  Click here to see the full broadcast schedule from Fort Myers. 

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