Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga and the New York Mets have agreed on a five-year, $75 million contract, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
The Mets have agreed to a five-year, $75 million deal with Kodai Senga, per source.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 11, 2022
The 29-year-old right-hander spent the past 11 years pitching for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He signed with the Hawks out of high school after being taken in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He has spent the vast majority of his career as a reliever, pitching to a 2.59 ERA over 224 games and 1,089 innings, with 1,252 strikeouts and 414 walks. He's a three-time NPB All-Star and has won two Mitsui Golden Glove Awards, as well as a gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics as part of Team Japan, which beat Team USA 2-0.
Senga's arsenal is superb and is why he has been on MLB radars for years. His fastball averages in the upper-90s, his four-seamer is impressive, and his splitter — a forkball known as the "ghost fork" — is devastating. Seattle Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto recently called it a "special pitch" and said it might be the best splitter in the world.
Kodai Senga, "Ghost Fork" (and Grip). 👻🍴 pic.twitter.com/c5Rwp64QeD
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 2, 2021
Senga has been trying to get to MLB since at least 2017, when he tried and failed to convince the Hawks to post him. The Hawks are the only NPB team that has never posted a player (the posting system was implemented in 1998), and they've publicly said they never intend to use the system.
Senga tried to get the Hawks to post him every year from 2017 to 2021, once even taking team president Yoshimitsu Goto out to dinner to make his case, but they never budged. Instead, he gained international free-agent rights for the first time after the 2022 season, his 11th in pro ball, and now he's finally on his way to Major League Baseball.
Mets on track to pay $421 million in payroll and penalties
For most teams, landing Senga would be the most exciting moment of the offseason.
For the Mets, it's just how they're filling out their rotation. Owned by MLB's richest owner, Steve Cohen, New York has already dropped $162 million to re-sign outfielder Brandon Nimmo, $102 million to re-sign closer Edwin Diaz and $86.7 million to lure reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander to replace the departed Jacob deGrom.
Add deals for pitchers Jose Quintana and David Robertson, and the Mets have spent $462 million since the end of the World Series. That's one year after they dropped almost as much money to land Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar.
The team is now projected to pay $421 million between its payroll and CBT penalties, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Cohen's ownership came with the promise of spending an amount of money that would make George Steinbrenner blush, and the fact that Senga — whom the Mets legitimately need — is the team's fourth-biggest addition in a little more than a month is showing how that looks.
Now we wait and see if all these moves will translate to a better result than last season, when the Mets blew a double-digit lead in the NL East to the Atlanta Braves.
Unless, of course, Cohen still isn't finished adding players.