New York Mets and Kodai Senga agree to a $75 million, five-year deal
Right-hander Kodai Senga and the New York Mets reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million contract on Saturday night. These sources confirm previous reports and include the prized Japanese pitcher as part of a free-agent spending frenzy that has increased the Mets’ payroll beyond previous records.
Senga, 29, was a star for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball for 11 seasons, pitching 1,340⅔ innings in 275 starts and going 104-51 with a 2.42 ERA. He has a fastball with triple digits on it and a split-finger fastball that he calls “the Ghost Fork” because it disappears before hitting the plate.
One of the best starting rotations in the National League will be bolstered by the free agent signings of American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and left-hander Jose Quintana, who will join incumbent ace Max Scherzer and right-hander Carlos Carrasco.
The Mets also re-signed center fielder Brandon Nimmo to an eight-year, $162 million contract and brought in right-handed reliever David Robertson to a one-year, $10 million deal during this wild week. The Senga signing was first reported by SNY. The Mets’ signings took them into uncharted territory for baseball payrolls, where the highest has always been around $300 million.
The Mets’ competitive balance-tax payroll at the moment is estimated to be around $345 million, based on adding the average annual value of all their deals. The Mets would be subject to an unprecedented luxury tax penalty if that holds true: $6 million for spending between $233 and $253 million; $8.4 million, between $253 and $273 million; $15 million for between $273 and $293 million; and $46.8 million for amounts above $293 million, or a tax rate of 90%. The Mets face a total payroll of over $421 million and a CBT bill of $76.2 million.
The fourth luxury-tax threshold is named after owner Steve Cohen, who is clearly not afraid to spend. New York could trade veterans or look to eliminate salary. The most recent beneficiary is Senga, who has a full no-trade clause and an opt-out option after the 2025 season.
And for a valid reason: Senga, Carlos Rodon, and Chris Bassitt, a former Mets right-hander, were among the few remaining top pitchers in a free agent class that saw Verlander and Jacob deGrom leave the Mets and sign elsewhere. Despite the fact that Senga never took home the Sawamura Award, which is given to Japan’s best pitcher, he has long been regarded as one of the best. In 2022, he had a 1.94 earned run average, 156 strikeouts in 144 innings, and only seven home runs allowed.
The day was won by Senga’s desire to play for the Mets and the fact that his contract does not include a posting fee because he has earned full free agency. Baseball Prospectus says that this means that the Mets are spending nearly $80 million more than the New York Yankees, which have the second-largest payroll.