Japanese starting pitcher Kodai Senga is among the most coveted MLB free agents available this winter. In advance of a bidding war for the 29-year-old righty, the New York Mets held a meeting with one of their top free-agent targets.
New York is in desperate need of pitching heading into 2023. Even after exercising the team option on Carlos Carrasco, the Mets are very much at risk of losing Chris Bassitt, Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker to the open market.
- New York Mets pitching stats (2022): 3.61 rotation ERA (fifth), .236 BAA (10th), 1.16 WHIP (fifth), 19% K-BB rate (first)
For an organization that relied heavily on its pitching staff, the impending voids could have a drastic influence on the Mets’ playoff chances in 2023. It’s why the franchise is focused on filling out its starting rotation early in free agency, with Senga among the priorities.
According to Will Sammon of The Athletic, Senga had a very productive meeting with the Mets recently. While he is among the starting pitchers New York covets the most, there is significant interest in him and multiple teams are expected to compete in a bidding war for his services.
- Kodai Senga stats (2022): 1.89 ERA, 159-50 K-BB, 1.04 WHIP across 148 innings
The San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres are among the teams interested in Senga. With multiple contenders in the National League after him, it could force New York into a bidding war for Senga.
Projecting Kodai Senga into Mets’ rotation
There are plenty of reasons why Senga is generating so much interest league-wide. While there is a difficult transition from the Japan Pacific League to MLB, there are multiple success stories in recent years of pitchers who handled the move with ease.
Senga, who turns 30 in January, is a three-time All-Star selection in Nippon Professional Baseball and a five-time Japan series champion. He dominated in 2020, winning the Golden Glove Award and leading the Pacific League in strikeouts (159) and ERA (2.75).
Scouts are high on Senga’s fastball, which reaches triple digits on regular occasions and he knows how to command it well. The fastball pairs nicely with a swing-and-miss splitter for an excellent two-pitch mix.
While there are concerns about Senga not having a third MLB-caliber pitch in his repertoire, Sammon notes that the Japanese star is already working with Driveline Baseball. Not only does the program have a long track record of helping pitchers develop their repertoires, but Senga is also reportedly learning about analytics and pitching metrics.
Related: MLB free agent tracker
In a pitcher-friendly ballpark with solid defense behind him, Senga could slide into the Mets’ rotation as a No. 3 starter. While it would still leave the club without a co-ace behind Max Scherzer, New York would at least have multiple pieces for a playoff-caliber rotation.