Right-hander Kodai Senga and the New York Mets agreed on a five-year, $75 million contract Saturday night, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN, confirming reports, adding the prized pitcher from Japan as part of a free agent spending frenzy that has rocketed the Mets' payroll past previous records.
Senga, 29, starred over 11 seasons with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball, going 104-51 with a 2.42 ERA in 1,340⅔ innings over 275 starts. He is armed with a fastball that has reached triple digits and a split-fingered fastball nicknamed "the Ghost Fork" for how it disappears before reaching the plate.
He will help fill out a rotation bolstered by the free agent signings of American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and left-hander Jose Quintana, who will join incumbent ace Max Scherzer and right-hander Carlos Carrasco in one of the National League's best starting staffs.
The Senga signing, first reported by SNY, encapsulated a madcap week in which the Mets also re-signed center fielder Brandon Nimmo to an eight-year, $162 million contract and brought in right-handed reliever David Robertson on a one-year, $10 million deal. The signings pushed the Mets to uncharted waters for baseball payrolls, where the top have always hovered around the $300 million range.
Currently, the Mets' competitive-balance-tax payroll -- calculated by adding the average annual value of all their deals -- is estimated to be around $345 million. If that holds, the Mets would be levied a never-before-seen luxury-tax penalty: $6 million for money spent from $233 million to $253 million; $8.4 million for $253 million to $273 million; $15 million for $273 million to $293 million; and $46.8 million for above $293 million -- a 90% tax rate. All told, the Mets are facing a $76.2 million CBT bill and a total payroll in excess of $421 million.
New York could trade veterans or look to rid salary, but owner Steve Cohen -- for whom the fourth luxury-tax threshold is nicknamed -- is clearly not shy about spending. Senga, who receives an opt-out after the 2025 season and a full no-trade clause, is the latest beneficiary.
And with good reason: Along with Carlos Rodon and former Mets right-hander Chris Bassitt, Senga represented one of the few remaining top pitchers in a free agent class that has seen Jacob deGrom leave the Mets and Verlander join them. While Senga never won the Sawamura Award, given to the best pitcher in Japan, he has long been considered among the finest. He was ever difficult to square up in 2022, posting a 1.94 ERA, striking out 156 in 144 innings and allowing just seven home runs.
Senga's desire to be with the Mets, along with a contract that does not include a posting fee because Senga had earned full free agency, helped win the day. And with it takes the Mets' spending nearly $80 million higher than the second-largest payroll, that of the New York Yankees, according to Baseball Prospectus.