He's Coming: Japanese Ace Kodai Senga Will Opt Out of His Deal So He Can Enter MLB Free Agency

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He’s Coming: Japanese Ace Kodai Senga Will Opt Out of His Deal So He Can Enter MLB Free Agency

Chicago Cubs

It’s official: Japanese ace Kodai Senga is opting out of his deal in Japan so that he can pursue MLB free agency.

Senga – sometimes written as Kodai, sometimes Koudai (we’ll get final clarity on the preferred Anglofied version soon enough) – is coming off a dominant platform season in the NPB, and he’s coming to the States:

We’ve written at length about Senga before, because his arrival in the United States has long been expected. The 29-year-old righty posted a 1.89 ERA over 148.0 innings in Japan this year, striking out 159 and walking 50. He allowed just 7 home runs.

That’s generally the expectation you see placed on him in the various scouting reports: not necessarily a front-of-the-rotation arm in MLB, but pretty safely mid-rotation, and then upside from there.

The Chicago Cubs are expected to be among the teams in on Senga, as we’ve discussed before. The Athletic duo of Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma have mentioned Senga multiple times this offseason when discussing anticipated Cubs pitching targets. That search will be far and wide, with the Cubs needing impact at the front of the rotation (ideally, a true ace – though I suppose it’s possible Senga could have that upside). They will desire more than one starting pitcher, though, so it’s not out of the question that the Cubs could purse Senga as well as another front-half arm, in trade or in free agency.

We also know that the Cubs are not afraid to offer up a substantial financial commitment to lure a big Japanese star (Seiya Suzuki), and – from the business operations and ownership side – I also expect there could be some economic opportunities for an MLB that has not one but two big-time Japanese stars on the roster. That’s not why you’d go after a big-money Japanese player, mind you – it’s more of a selling point for baseball operations if they want a little extra scratch to make the deal happen.

That part will depend on just how well the Cubs regard Senga. I expect we’ll learn relatively soon, as we did last offseason with Suzuki, whether the Cubs are in the mix or not. The nature of courting an international star tends to wind up becoming public eventually.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.