Maeda, who turns 28 in April, was 15-8 with a 2.09 ERA in 29 starts for Hiroshima in the Japanese Central League, with 175 strikeouts and 41 walks in 206⅓ innings, winning the Sawamura Award as the league's top pitcher for a second time, having also won in 2015.
He pitched for Japan in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
The Carp will set the posting fee for Maeda, which is likely to be the maximum of $20 million per Ben Badler of Baseball America. Any team willing to pay that fee to Hiroshima will be allowed to negotiate with Maeda during a 30-day period after he is posted. Unlike Major League Baseball's agreement with the Korean Baseball Organization, which allows for a single team to win a bidding process to gain exclusive negotiating rights with the player, MLB's agreement with Japan allows posted players to negotiate with multiple teams, to drive up the price.
Masahiro Tanaka was the first Japanese star to benefit from this new system, signing a $155 million, seven-year deal with the New York Yankees before the 2014 season, with New York also paying $20 million to the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Just two years earlier, under the old system, the Texas Rangers won the bid for Yu Darvish, paying a reported $51.7 million fee to the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Darvish, able to negotiate with only the Rangers, signed a six-year, $56 million contract.
Maeda will be one of the most attractive pitchers on the market, a likely fallback option for teams that lose out on Zack Greinke or maybe Johnny Cueto. Maeda was 97-67 with a 2.39 ERA in eight years with Hiroshima, and over the last six seasons has averaged 201 innings, a 2.16 ERA, 16 wins and 172 strikeouts per season, never posting an ERA higher than 2.60 during that span.