Just because a team falls out of the frequent mentions in connection with a particular free agent doesn’t always mean they’ve moved on. Sometimes, it’s just the product of information flow, or visit timing, or reporting attentions being paid elsewhere, or what-have-you.
But I admitted that it started to really bum me out that we weren’t even seeing the Cubs mentioned at all in connection with Japanese ace Kodai Senga over the past month. The mentions were fast and furious when the offseason began, and then suddenly everything was about how enormous Senga’s market was, with a half dozen or more teams mentioned … but none of them the Cubs.
Thankfully, the Cubs have retaken their place in the mentions over the past 24 hours (whether they actually ever left the negotiations, of course, is another story entirely). Jon Morosi said the Cubs were heavy in the tier of starting pitching after the top three, with a particular mention of Senga and Chris Bassitt. And today, Jon Heyman puts the Cubs back in there with Senga:
Had I to guess, those six teams are probably the ones that have been most seriously pursuing Senga all along, but it’s possible only a handful are going to be in the final mix. And had I to guess further, that list is originating with Senga’s camp, generously describing the teams as part of his “market,” even if they know some of them are going to be bowing out soon.
In other words, it kinda feels like a mention that would precede some more serious negotiations with just a few of those teams – hey, his market is really big and features some of the deepest pockets, but we really like you and want to see if you will step up to the level necessary to be in the final mix.
I think the old projections on Senga are probably comically outdated at this point (four years and $60 million? no chance it’s remotely close, right?), so a team is really going to have to go out on a limb to land Senga, betting that his transition to the States will be very smooth, productive, and healthy. Senga has big league caliber pitches, but it’s not a universally-held belief that they will all play up in MLB. He will pitch next season at age 30, which is not old, but he does have quite a bit of mileage on the arm and has dealt with injury issues.
Still, there’s a chance at meaningful upside there, and he has at times been dominant. Even as a mid-rotation arm, there’s a ton of value there. I remain very hopeful that the Cubs will make an aggressive offer.