Lukewarm Stove: Are the Mets Even Serious About deGrom? Kershaw Impact? Latest on Senga, Verlander, Yoshida, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Are the Mets Even Serious About deGrom? Kershaw Impact? Latest on Senga, Verlander, Yoshida, More

Chicago Cubs

In case you missed it, Clayton Kershaw is returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year deal worth around $20 million.

Kershaw, a free agent for the second straight offseason, was probably always going to return to L.A. this winter, but he was at least theoretically an option for his hometown Rangers. Don’t feel too bad for them, though — the Rangers are now even freer to pursue free agents Carlos Rodon and Jacob deGrom, both of who have been connected to Texas often early this winter.

Mets Trying to Make deGrom Jealous?

Before Texas will get a shot at deGrom, the Mets will have their say. But so far, the rumors out of New York are pretty thin. And specifically, Jon Heyman was been doing a whole lot of pushing back on the idea that the Mets would go beyond $35M a year, which just isn’t going to get it done. As expected, Heyman says deGrom is seeking to beat Scherzer’s $43.3M AAV.

By contrast, I have seen some reports that the Mets ARE willing to go to $40M+ a year, but for three years, not four. Either way, they are simply not acting like Steve Cohen’s Mets when it comes to deGrom this offseason. They want him, they’ll pay him, but they’re not going over the top.

Notably, the Mets are starting to demonstrate interest elsewhere — be it legitimately or simply as a play for leverage with deGrom.

  • According to Inside the Mets, the Mets “have shown early interest in left-handed starter Carlos Rodon.”
  • According to Michael Mayer, the Mets have “scouted Kodai Senga,” the NPB right-hander coming over from Japan – he’s someone the Cubs are known to have their eyes on.
  • And According to Tim Healey, the Mets have shown interest in former Dodgers lefty Andrew Heaney, who had some overlapping time with Mets GM Billy Eppler in Anaheim.

That’s a whole lot of reporting out of New York, so I’d be wary of the intentions there. It all reads to me like the Mets want deGrom’s camp to know they totally have options.

Of course, none of those guys are as good as deGrom when he’s healthy. But Senga and Rodon are at least realistic “alternatives.”

For the Cubs, there have been plenty of connections to Senga (and past connections to Heaney), but the Rodon chatter has been increasingly nonexistent. The NYP has the Rangers, Giants, and Dodgers listed as possibilities for Rodon.

What’s the Latest on Senga?

Kodai Senga is officially eligible to negotiate with all 30 MLB teams, but unlike other players who’ve come over from the NPB through the posting system (like Seiya Suzuki), Senga isn’t limited to a 45-day negotiating window. He can take as long as wants, and figures to have some heavy-hitters among his suitors.

Specifically, Jon Morosi has listed the Mets and Cubs alongside the Rangers, Blue Jays, Mariners, and most recently, Dodgers:

But here’s some extra juice that could impact the Cubs: Senga’s agent, Joel Wolfe (who’s also Seiya Suzuki’s agent), told reporters what type of team he’s looking to play for next year: “He wants to be in a big market. He wants to be on a great team,” Wolfe said.

The Cubs can check at least one of those boxes right now, as Chicago is certainly a big market, but they’ll have to make some other, rather significant signings if they want to demonstrate an ability to contend next year. The Suzuki connection helps, but the Cubs have work to do.

On a related note, Morosi says the Rangers have been involved with every top available free agent starter, from deGrom, to Rodon, to Senga, to Justin Verlander.

Justin Verlander’s Market and Cost

Speaking of Verlander, Morosi lists the Braves, Yankees, Rangers, and Angels as players for Verlander this offseason (though it sounded like others are in, as well). Heyman thinks re-signing with the Astros makes sense, too.

In addition, Morosi suggested that Verlander, who’ll sign for a shorter term than deGrom, could beat deGrom in terms of average annual value:

Masataka Yoshida’s Market:

In case you missed the news, the NPB’s two time batting champ, Masataka Yoshida, is coming over to MLB this offseason. Yoshida is a 28-year-old left-handed hitting corner outfielder who’s absolutely destroyed NPB pitching for years. We talked all about him right here.

According to one “Yankees person,” New York is indeed interested in Yoshida, in addition to Aaron Judge. Apparently, they see him as a potential complementary addition, with his left-handed at and more contact-oriented approach:

“He’s as legit as they come,” former MLB OF Joe McCarthy who played in Japan, told The Post’s Joel Sherman. “He didn’t slump for five months. He can go gap to gap. He just constantly barrels-up pitches.”

Former MLB pitcher Colin Rea, who played against Yoshida in Japan, said that Masatka is “a much better hitter than (Seiya) Suzuki.” Adding that there’s “no reason he couldn’t be one of the best hitters in MLB.”

Remember, though, Yoshida is a corner outfielder who does not get high praise for his work on defense. That’s going to be a limiting factor for the Cubs. The Mets are reportedly also scouting Yoshida.

Unlike Senga, Yoshida will be available through the posting system, which means he’ll have just 45 days to sign once he’s posted *and* his new team will have to pay a posting fee to acquire him (for Suzuki, that was about $14M).

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami