Kenta Maeda contract turned into an insane bust for the Tigers in short order

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins
Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty were signed just a few days apart, and they gave some especially fatalistic Tigers fans fuel to be even bigger Debbie Downers about the season than they were before. The chief complaints about Maeda were that he was getting old and he hadn't pitched more than 107 innings since 2019. With Flaherty, it was his decline over the past few seasons and his bouncing around the league as a failed reclamation project.

Flaherty has been able to prove those naysayers wrong. After Tarik Skubal, he's easily been the most solid of any of the Tigers' starters, and he's shaping up to be their biggest trade chip at the deadline as long has his back issues don't ruin it.

Maeda hasn't been so lucky. In 15 starts for Detroit this season, he's made only two scoreless starts and two one-run starts, while almost every other appearance has looked like an absolute blowup (and he's already gone onto the IL once). His most recent outing was no exception — in fact, it was the worst of them all so far.

In just 3 2/3 innings against the Twins on the Fourth of July, Maeda gave up nine hits, nine earned runs, and three walks while only striking out three batters in a game the Tigers went on to lose 12-3.

Kenta Maeda's most recent blowup start might mark another awful Tigers contract bust

Unlike Flaherty, the Tigers didn't give themselves an out in the form of a one-year deal for Maeda. Instead, he's owed $24 million and set to be a Tiger through 2025, and it would be near impossible to find a team who would take him off their hands, even in an always pitcher-deficient market. He's tied with Flaherty as Detroit's second highest-paid player this season behind Javy Báez, and he very well might join Báez on a list of all-time bad Tigers contracts.

Maeda's Tigers debut against the White Sox on March 30, when he gave up seven hits and six earned runs that Detroit's offense was actually able to overcome, is feeling more and more like it was a terrible tone-setter for his first season with the Tigers. Through over half the season, we've seen glimpses of the pitcher who once placed second in Cy Young voting, but not enough to hold onto hope that the rest of his season will turn out to be anything other than a wash and another terrible front office decision for the Tigers.