Dodgers still view Maeda as a starting pitcher

Dodgers still view Maeda as a starting pitcher

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kenta Maeda thrived during the postseason, pitching in a bullpen role. Don't expect to see him there come March, however.

"We still view him as a starter," said Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi from the General Managers Meetings in Orlando. "That's what we signed him for. We've got to find guys to start all 162 games for us. He's proven very valuable in the last couple years at eating up a good chunk of those starts and being effective."

Maeda posted a 4.22 ERA in 29 appearances (25 starts) in 2017. He's already made it clear that he views himself as a starter going forward.

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Still, there's no denying his effectiveness out of the 'pen. Maeda, who matched up mostly with right-handers in the playoffs, allowed one run over 10 2/3 relief innings in October.

"The fact that he's shown the ability to be a real weapon in short stints in a playoff setting, that's a nice thing for us to know, hopefully, going into future postseasons," Zaidi said. "There's always a little bit of uncertainty as far as how a guy will translate into that role. For him to do it that effectively, it's just good for us to know."

Zaidi confirms option on Roberts

The Dodgers hold a team option on manager Dave Roberts for the 2019 season, Zaidi confirmed Tuesday, quashing the notion that Roberts might have been entering his final season under contract in '18.

Asked whether the two sides would work to extend that deal this offseason, Zaidi paraphrased the answer given by team president Andrew Friedman earlier this month.

"We like working together, and we expect to for a long time," Zaidi said. "When we have an update on the contract front, we'll let you guys know."

On Tuesday, Roberts finished second in National League Manager of the Year Award voting, behind Arizona's Torey Lovullo.

Ohtani timeframe not a concern

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani of Japan has been the talk of the Meetings this week. He's expected to draw interest from across the league, though he has yet to be posted by his current team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

On Tuesday, Zaidi noted that the timing of Ohtani's availability probably won't make a difference, should the Dodgers choose to pursue him.

"I don't know what the timeframe is, and obviously, we can't make a baseball decision until a ruling is made," Zaidi said of Ohtani, who can pitch and play the outfield. "There's always need for starting pitching, whether it's beginning of the offseason, middle of the offseason, end of the offseason. ... I don't think the timing will be a concern."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.