How COVID-Shortened Season Affects Kenta Maeda’s Contract


The Twins’ newest right-handed starter has a complicated contract, but the team got some clarity on it for 2020 this week.

When the Twins traded for Kenta Maeda in February, one of the interesting nuances of the trade was his complicated, incentive-laden contract. Now, after a massive shakeup, figuring out just what that deal will pay is harder than ever. It might also be more important.

The Pohlad family, which owns the team, can certainly afford to pay everyone their prorated salaries, even allowing for whatever losses they might realize based on a truncated season in which they will not be allowed to welcome large crowds at Target Field. Still, every team figures to operate on a tight budget this season, and even into 2021, as owners put up a united front and try to maximize profit despite revenue shortfalls. A contract like Maeda’s can be especially valuable under those circumstances, but it can also become onerous.

On Monday, the league and the MLB Players Association announced their agreement on the disposition of incentives and vesting options in player contracts in a short season. The terms of that agreement stipulate that both amounts paid and thresholds will be prorated. Thus, a player who needed to pitch 162 innings in order to qualify for a vesting option would need precisely 60 to do so. A player who met a prorated incentive threshold worth $250,000 would be paid $92,500 for doing so.

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