New York Mets Sign Kodai Senga

by Connor Charbat
New York Mets Sign Kodai Senga

Late Saturday night, the New York Mets signed Kodai Senga to a 5-year contract worth $75 million. After 11 quality seasons in the NPB, Senga will finally make his way to the MLB in 2023.

Lots of teams were interested in signing the 30-year-old right-hander, some of which included the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and the San Diego Padres.

If it weren't for the Fukuoka Softbank organization, Senga may have been in the MLB years ago. The Hawks have been known for their stringent policy against posting their players. However, after signing a 5-year deal with Fukuoka Softbank just last year, Senga had language in his contract that allowed him to seek MLB offers for the 2023 season.

Locking in Senga for $75 million over five years is a phenomenal deal for the New York Mets. The amount of upside here is extreme. For reference, the Phillies signed Taijuan Walker to a 4-year $72 million contract. If you ask me, this deal with Senga is a steal.

It's assumed that the Mets will give Senga a shot in the rotation and even if that doesn't work out, he could be a very strong middle reliever and/or late-inning force.

The most intriguing aspect of Senga's arsenal is his velocity. His velocity in 2022 reached a peak of 101.9 mph while his average fastball velocity sat at 95-96 mph. He also routinely touched 98-99 mph during his time on the mound.

New York Mets Sign Kodai Senga

Kodai Senga with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

Kodai Senga has been nothing short of stellar in his 11 seasons with the Hawks. Through 275 games, Senga boasted a 104-51 record with an ERA of 2.42 and a 1.11 WHIP.

His career BB/9 sits at a modest 3.4, just(italic) above the MLB average of 3.1 for 2022. Additionally, his SO/9 is 10.3, which is substantially above the MLB average in 2022 of 8.5.

To accompany his above-average velocity, Senga also created his own pitch. The pitch is known as the "Ghost Fork". This pitch combines both aspects of the fork and split and has absolutely nasty action on it. The ghost fork looks like it is going to run in on the hands of a left-handed hitter, but suddenly fades away and drops off the table. This pitch has made some NPB look downright silly.

Not to mention, in the 2017 WBC, Senga faced Eric Hosmer, Andrew McCutchen, and Buster Posey. They were no match.

Kodai Senga's Fantasy Impact with the New York Mets

Currently, the New York Mets' rotation includes Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Jose Quintana, and Carlos Carrasco. Adding Senga to this already dangerous rotation is something the NL East is going to have quite an issue with.

Obviously, we don't know if Senga's NPB success will immediately translate to the MLB, but there are definitely high hopes. He's got the filthy stuff to go along with his high velocity fastball. That's never a bad combo as long as he can control it.

Now, as far as fantasy impact goes, the true value will come about if Senga cements himself in the starting rotation. With a solidified rotation spot, he certainly has the ability to be a top 75 starting pitcher and that's being extremely modest. If he ends up in the bullpen, well, not so much. Edwin Diaz is the closer and depending on what kind of league you're in, middle relievers usually don't require much attention.

Nonetheless, I have zero issues taking a chance and drafting him as a top 50 starter. Again, the upside here is extreme. This puts him in the SP realm of Frankie Montas, Andrew Heaney, and Lance McCullers Jr.

Final Thoughts on Kodai Senga

I am very high on Senga and his arrival in the MLB. I believe his arsenal combined with the high-velocity fastball has supreme staying power in the league. I'm not saying there won't be growing pains, but Senga has proven himself to not only be overpowering, but consistent.

He has the repertoire to be elite, he just needs to prove it in the MLB. We know that's not an easy task, but I'm very hopeful.

Senga routinely throws a high 90s fastball, a ghost forkball, slider, curve, and a cutter. All of these pitches have been nothing but successful for him in the NPB. Due to the sheer filth of these off-speed pitches of his, I am very excited for his arrival in 2023.

As always for any player, I will monitor him during the Spring. Mainly, his velocity. If it remains in the mid to high 90s AND he is controlling his off-speed pitches with ease, I'm going to be pulling the trigger irresponsibly early.

For a grade on this signing, I give the New York Mets an A. There is so much value here and the upside is tremendous.

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