Kodai Senga has been one of the better pitchers in Japan over the past decade, and the right-hander could make for an intriguing entrant onto next offseason’s MLB free agent market. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported last night (Twitter link) that Senga is likely to consider contract offers from major league teams over the winter. That’s not especially surprising, as he’s reportedly sought to make the jump to MLB in the past but been denied that opportunity by his NPB team, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Senga is a career-long member of the Hawks, with whom he has spent parts of 11 seasons. He’s tallied a bit more than 1000 innings at Japan’s highest level, pitching to a 2.62 ERA with a very strong 28.3% strikeout rate. The right-hander has a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the past four seasons, including a sterling 2.05 mark across 105 1/3 innings this year. Senga has fanned 28.1% of opponents in 2022 against a fine 8.1% walk rate. Among qualified NPB hurlers, he ranks third in ERA.
Last offseason, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs wrote that Senga has a quality four-pitch mix headlined by his fastball and split. Longehagen indicated neither of his breaking pitches (cutter or slider) were likely to be impactful offerings, but he suggested his two top pitches combined with solid control could give him a chance to start in the majors. At the time, Longenhagen placed Senga as his #4 international prospect who might be available in 2023 and beyond (and the #3 player in Japan, behind righties Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Roki Sasaki).
Unlike Yamamoto and Sasaki, both of whom are in their early 20’s, Senga turns 30 years old in January. The 6’0″ hurler won’t be subject to the MLB – NPB posting system by virtue of his exceeding nine years of NPB service time. That allows him to explore international free agency without requiring any form of compensation on the part of major league teams to his NPB employer.
Senga has a fair bit of financial security to fall back upon. He signed a five-year contract with the Hawks last winter that reportedly guaranteed him a $5.3MM salary this season. That pact afforded Senga an opt-out opportunity after 2022 to allow him to explore MLB free agency, but it also means he can stay in a familiar setting on a multi-year deal if he doesn’t believe there’ll be MLB offers to his liking.
Yankees need another pitcher
Munetaka Murakami (3B) from Yakult Swallows probably will attract more teams if he pursue MLB opportunities next year. Dude putting monster number .320/.712/.452 so far in 97 games (OPS 1.164) with 39 HR and 98 RBI and 78BB 82K.
this guy on base skills must be out of this world… OBP of .712… what does he have like 130-140 BB’s
Sorry, i forgot to mention that NPB site always put AVG/SLG/OBP in that order
I think you transposed the OBP and SLG. I doubt he has a .712 OBP. That would be otherworldly.
Yakult controls his rights for 4 more seasons, unlikely he’s posted this soon.
Same thing happen with Ohtani. Dude asking to be posted in late 2017. While he was 22. Murakami born in 2000. He will be in the same age as Ohtani debut in MLB next year
Ohtani is a true exception to the rule, Nippan knew he wanted out – maxed out his fee. Masataka Yoshida is more likely to be posted.
Shota Imanaga is also more likely to be posted, he’s making over 1B yen and is a true free agent soon.
Imanaga? Isnt he always get injured?
He is still very young and does not have the necessary service time to qualify for free agency. His current club will have to post him.
Yep, he’s will be 23 next year, same age when Ohtani debut in the Major
Murakami will have to be posted by his club. Senga has played long enough to qualify for free agency.
Wouldn’t mind the Phillies taking a look with a few spots likely to fill.
Mariners would be my guess. Seems like he is smart enough to avoid the Angels.
Did somebody say pitcher? – Jon Daniels
Masahiro Tanaka is doing well.
Yamamoto has been amazing the past 3 years. He’s only 23. 733 career innings pitched. 744 strike outs and an era of 1.88.
"Not" Rick Hahn
There are a few Cubans pitching in Japan that would probably help mlb teams, but those guys would have to defect first. Raidel Martinez and Livan Moinelo in particular.
Senga most likely has a lot of wear and tear. I wouldn’t give him more than a two year deal.
1000 career innings over 11 NPB seasons doesn’t seem like a lot of wear and tear.
He’s averaged 140 IP over the past 8 seasons, and is putting up similar figures at age 29 that he did at 22. I’d give him at least a 3 year deal, max 5.
I dunno. He’s been pitching for a long time. Are we looking at arm/elbow issues?
Going to Blue Jays. He will begin a miserable 2 yrs in MLB before flaming out.
All these Japanese names are driving me crazy! Yamamoto, Higashioka, Suzuki, Wakamatsu and Sano. Wait, Sano?
Senga has a multi yr option to stay if he doesn’t get a similar or greater deal ..its at $12,5 mil for 2023 and goes up.. its going to take 5/60-75mil to get him state side