There have been stateside indications that the Chicago Cubs would be in on Japanese ace Kodai Senga this offseason, but not we’ve also got a note from Japan.
According to Sanspo in Japan – and Google Translate – the Cubs and Red Sox are “interested” in Senga, who has publicly declared that he’s opting out of his contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks so that he can pursue MLB free agency. It’s likely that many other teams will be interested, mind you, but the only two listed by name are the Cubs and Red Sox. Maybe that’s because they just happen to be two big U.S. teams that turn heads in Japan, or maybe it’s because they are seen as the leading suitors.
Meanwhile, I saw a second report on Sanspo that Senga is signing with Wasserman to be his agency, which may or may not mean anything … but it’s the same agency that represents both Yu Darvish and Seiya Suzuki (and you’ll remember that Suzuki sought out Darvish for feedback on signing with the Cubs, and got a strong recommendation). It’s not clear from the article if the specific agent – Joel Wolfe – will be the same, but it is probably helpful for Senga to have a built-in connection to Suzuki and Darvish if he wants to discuss the Cubs.
Senga, 29, has been one of the best pitchers in Japan for a decade now, and he’s coming off a season that saw him post a 1.89 ERA over 148.0 innings. He struck out 159, walked 50, and allowed just 7 home runs.
Kodai Senga throws a mid-90s fastball with good secondaries, and the rough expectation for a transition to MLB is that you’d be looking at a mid-rotation starter with upside from there. The MLBTR crew recently guessed that he could be looking at a five-year, $75 million deal in free agency, though it’s SUUUUPER hard to predict the guys who are transitioning. To me, that sounds like a steal, but I don’t have the scouting prowess to know just how well – or not – Senga will pitch in MLB.