The right-hander Kodai Senga has already been linked to about a third of the league in various sources, and he is arguably the second-best pitcher still in the league behind Carlos Rodón.
Senga’s representative Joel Wolfe informed reporters at the Winter Meetings this afternoon that his client has received offers for deals of five and six years, reflecting the widespread interest (via Kyle Glaser of Baseball America). Wolfe, as expected, refused to disclose Senga’s pay scale but instead suggested that he give the chance to play for a winning team more importance.
Wolfe previously disclosed to Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago that the right-hander wanted to play in a significant market.
Investing five or six seasons in a pitcher with no prior experience facing major league hitters is undoubtedly risky. However, it’s also simple to comprehend how the bidding reportedly progressed to that point.
Senga had a stellar record in Japan’s top division, posting a 2.59 ERA in portions of 11 NPB seasons. He has pitched 144 innings with a 1.94 ERA and has struck out 27.5% of his opponents, which is above average. At a rate of 8.6% on average, he walked batters.
Scouting reports indicate that Senga possesses a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and that his best secondary pitch is an exceptional splitter.
His breaking ball and the regularity of his effectiveness in throwing strikes have drawn some criticism from evaluators, but he has a high-octane top two pitches and has a long history of success at the NPB’s highest level.
He will enter his age-30 season and immediately join an MLB rotation, with his signing team undoubtedly hoping for at least mid-rotation type output.
Recently, the starting pitching market has improved, with multi-year contracts being signed for Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Zach Eflin, and Andrew Heaney. Beyond Rodón, Senga is the top free agent starter followed by Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jameson Taillon.
Senga is the youngest of that group and is expected to sign the longest contract; as a result, it’s likely that he’ll obtain the greatest guarantee, even though his yearly earnings may fall a little short of those of Bassitt and Eovaldi.
It is anticipated that Senga would get a five-year, $75MM contract heading into the offseason. Since he is a genuine international free agent, his former NPB side, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, won’t be entitled to any compensation from a signing team.
This offseason, he has been mentioned in connection with a number of teams, including the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Padres, Mets, Giants, Yankees, and Mariners. According to Wolfe, there are currently between six and twelve teams active in the market (via Glaser).