Keller getting biggest contract for Pirates pitcher while Mets shut down Senga, their All-Star RHP

One National League All-Star right-hander is getting the biggest contract ever for a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, and another is expected to miss the start of the season for the New York Mets.

Mitch Keller and the Pirates have agreed to a new $77 million, five-year contract, a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical and not yet final.

The new contract will begin this season and replace a $5,442,500 one-year agreement reached last month. The 27-year-old Keller likely will make his second opening day start in a row for Pittsburgh.

A second-round draft pick by the Pirates in 2014, Keller was 13-9 with a 4.21 ERA last season, when he was a first-time All-Star like Mets right-hander Kodai Senga.

Senga was shut down at the Mets camp and likely will start the season on the injured list because of a shoulder strain.

Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said Thursday that an MRI was done after Senga twice expressed having shoulder fatigue following throwing sessions in camp. Stearns described the strain in the back of the pitcher's right shoulder as moderate.

“We’re going to shut him down until these symptoms subside and strength returns to his normal levels,” Stearns told reporters at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Stearns said it was unclear how long Senga will be out, and when he might be able to make his season debut.

The 31-year-old Senga is going into the second season of a $75 million, five-year contract with the Mets after 11 seasons pitching in Japan. He was 12-7 with a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts last year, when he finished second in voting for National League rookie of the year.


There was a moment of silence for late San Diego Padres owner Peter Seidler before the first game this spring training.

Seidler, the team's owner and chairman, died in November at age 63.

San Diego hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers in Peoria, Arizona, in the only game Thursday. Those teams got an early start because they will open the regular season against each other on March 20 in Seoul, South Korea.

The Padres this season will wear a memorial patch on their jerseys to honor Seidler.


The Dodgers got spring training started with a load of offense, scoring eight runs and sending 11 batters to the plate in the first inning against the Padres.

Mookie Betts coaxed a leadoff walk from San Diego right-hander Joe Musgrove, and three batters later Teoscar Hernández, who in January signed a $23.5 million contract for this season with the Dodgers, brought home the first two runs with a ground-rule double that bounced over the wall in left-center. Other highlights included a massive, two-run homer from Kevin Padlo.

Los Angeles had several potential starters playing, though Shohei Ohtani was not among them. Gavin Lux walked in his first at-bat after missing the entire 2023 regular season following a knee injury in spring training.

Musgrove didn’t record an out. New Padres manager Mike Shildt pulled the veteran after the double by Hernandez.


Alex Verdugo is now with the New York Yankees after being traded by the Red Sox, but insists he has no hard feelings toward Alex Cora, his former manager that benched him twice in Boston last year.

Verdugo, the left-handed-hitting corner outfielder, was part of a rare trade between the AL East rivals in December. He played for Cora the past three seasons.

“It’s one of those things that, it’s a little bit weird because outside of the game, he was great. Even as a manager, he’s a good manager,” Verdugo said Thursday from the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Florida.

“In certain ways, AC was hard on me, but I don’t have any hard feelings toward him. It’s one of those things toward the end we kind of ran our course out a little bit,” he said. “But as a person and outside of baseball, I loved him. I loved his kids, his family.”

Verdugo was first benched by Cora on June 8 for not hustling between first and second base on a grounder a night earlier, and again Aug. 5 for arriving late at the ballpark.


Hyun Jin Ryu is returning to South Korea to play for his former team after pitching 10 seasons in the major leagues.

The Hanwha Eagles in the Korean Baseball Organization said Thursday that the 36-year-old Ryu signed an eight-year contract. The $12.8 million deal makes him the league's most expensive player.

Ryu, the National League starter in the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, was 78-48 with a 3.27 ERA in 186 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2013-14 and 2016-19) and Toronto (2020-23). He started 11 games for the Blue Jays at the end of last season after coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2022.

Before the majors, Ryu was 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA and 27 complete games for Hanwha from 2006-12.


AP Baseball Writers Ronald Blum and David Brandt, and AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this report.



Stephen Hawkins, The Associated Press