Maeda meets with Dodgers
Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda reportedly spent Christmas Eve visiting the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Orange County Register reported that Maeda was at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, citing a Japanese media source.
The deadline for Major League clubs to sign Maeda -- which would include paying his former team, the Hiroshima Carp, the $20 million release fee -- is Jan. 8 at 5 p.m. ET.
Maeda, who turns 28 in April, pitched eight seasons with the Carp, compiling a 97-67 record and a 2.64 ERA through 218 career games. His impressive 2015 campaign earned him his second Sawamura Award, Japan's equivalent to the Cy Young Award.
Maeda could be an appealing option partly because he isn't tied to Draft compensation, unlike the free agents who were extended a qualifying offer this winter. Los Angeles has needs in its starting rotation after Zack Greinke signed with the D-backs and a deal with Hisashi Iwakuma fell through this month.
• MLB Free Agent & Hot Stove Tracker
Lazarito interest growing
Another foreign player garnering significant interest is 16-year-old Cuban prospect Lazaro Robersy Armenteros Arrango.
MLB clubs will get a closer look at Armenteros on Jan. 8 during his showcase in the Dominican Republic. It'll be the first time scouts have seen him play in person since the summer of 2014 during the 15U Baseball World Cup in Sinaloa, Mexico. The highly regarded outfielder, who is 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, will likely fit best at one of the corner-outfield positions.
Armenteros isn't just attracting interest in the Majors. A Japanese team is reportedly willing to pay him $15 million to play in Nippon Professional Baseball, per a USA Today report, but Armenteros told MLB.com in September that his intent is to sign with an MLB club.
"My goal is to sign with a team and make it to the Major Leagues one day," Armenteros said from his home in Haiti. "I'm confident I can make that happen. Make an impact. I'm working hard every day to reach that goal."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.