The Los Angeles Dodgers loaded Kenta Maeda's contract with performance incentives after laying down a $20 million posting fee to pluck him from Japan's top league.
If his debut is any indication, they may wind up on the hook for plenty more cash.
The Dodgers hand the ball to Maeda for their home opener Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks looking to bounce back after faltering in the late innings over the weekend.
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Maeda, who celebrated his 28th birthday Monday, signed an eight-year contract in January that guarantees him $25 million, but clauses in the deal allow him to earn up to $106.2 million if he meets benchmarks that include number of starts and innings pitched.
The right-hander made a great first impression Wednesday, allowing five hits over six innings and hitting a solo homer in the fourth of a 7-0 win at San Diego.
"Until you see it, you don't know what to expect, but I wasn't really too surprised," manager Dave Roberts said. "I think it's great for him to pitch that day, great for baseball for him to pitch the home opener, and even better for the fans of Los Angeles to see Kenta Maeda pitch that home opener."
Another efficient effort certainly would be appreciated. The Dodgers (4-3) lost three of four to rival San Francisco after the bullpen blew two saves while surrendering 12 runs and 17 hits in 10 2-3 innings.
They led 5-0 after a half inning Sunday before starter Scott Kazmir lost the lead and the 'pen gave up three runs in the sixth of a 9-6 defeat. Los Angeles scored six runs twice in the series and lost both times.
"The pen's going to be fine," Roberts said. "We always can't be hitting on all cylinders. No concern."
The lineup could look different for the home opener with catcher Yasmani Grandal and Howie Kendrick expected to be activated from the disabled list. Scott Van Slyke also could return after leaving Saturday's contest with lower-back tightness.
Los Angeles' three homers are among the fewest in the majors to start the young season, but that's exactly how many Patrick Corbin allowed in his first start Wednesday.
Each of the four runs he allowed over seven innings of a 4-3 home loss to Colorado came via the long ball in another otherwise decent outing. Corbin struck out six and didn't issue a walk.
The left-hander has allowed only four homers in 44 innings against the Dodgers in his career, but he has an 8.76 ERA while losing his last three starts against them.
"It was good to get through seven," Corbin said. "I felt strong and felt like I could have done longer. Just frustrating. Just a couple of pitches."
Manager Chip Hale felt similarly after Arizona (2-5) failed to capitalize on a long homestand to open the season. The Diamondbacks dropped three of four to the Chicago Cubs over the weekend while being outscored 27-14.
Paul Goldschmidt homered in Sunday's 7-3 loss and Socrates Brito hit his first career homer for Arizona, which is beginning a 10-game trip against the Dodgers.
"It was frustrating at times, but we played some good baseball," Hale said. "It's seven games in. It's not how we wanted to start but you know what, you tip your caps to the Cubs and the Rockies. They outplayed us and they won the series."
The Diamondbacks have dropped 15 of the last 18 meetings at Chavez Ravine.