Kenta Maeda agrees to two-year deal with Tigers

Minnesota has lost one of its free agent targets to an AL Central rival.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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One of the first free agent dominos for the Minnesota Twins has fallen.

Sonny Gray is the biggest free agent pitcher the Twins are hoping to bring back, but Kenta Maeda was another guy the team probably would have liked to get back. There were talks of a potential reunion earlier this week but before anything could get too far down the road another contender entered the ring.

The Detroit Tigers showed ‘serious interest’ in Maeda before Thanksgiving and reportedly intensified their pursuit in the last few days. That has all culminated with Maeda landing a two-year deal to stay in the AL Central but switch uniforms.

MLB insider Jon Heyman reported on Sunday night that Maeda and the Tigers had agreed to a deal.

It’s a $24 million deal for Maeda, which is perhaps the first of many times the Twins payroll situation prices them out of landing a free agent target. Minnesota would have loved to get Maeda back, and perhaps $12 million per year is doable if the payroll hadn’t been slashed, but it seems the Tigers aggressiveness might have been motivated by knowing the Twins could only go so far.

That’s all speculation, but the fact remains the Twins have lost one of their starters from last season to a division rival and need to figure out how to replace him.

How will Twins replace Kenta Maeda in starting rotation?

Maeda returning was never a sure-thing, and replacing him was one of the storylines fans were following heading into the offseason. Bringing him back as a back-end rotation starter would have been nice but losing him to Detroit is more annoying than anything else.

Replacing Maeda won’t be easy but it’s no impossible.

Louie Varland and Bailey Ober have already been tapped as potential additions to the rotation, with Simeon Woods Richardson in the running as well. Internal options seem to be the best route for the front office to go, with the money used to replace Maeda in free agency now pooling to help replace Gray.

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