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Mets showing strong interest in Kodai Senga as the market becomes more defined
With Taijuan Walker off the Jameson Taillon, Kodai Senga and Chris Bassitt remain the club's best option to fill their void in the rotation - can they pull the trigger?
What’s Up with the Mets? 🍎
The Mets have maintained interest in bringing Chris Bassitt back, but Bassitt has yet to start negotiating with them (SNY, on-air)
Taijuan Walker agreed to sign a four-year, $72 million contract with the Phillies (MLB.com)
Jameson Taillon agreed to a four-year, $68 million contract with the Cubs (ESPN)
The Cubs are considering signing former Met Dominic Smith (MLB.com)
The Mets extended the contract of catching instructor Glenn Sherlock through the 2024 season (New York Post)
Gary Cohen is among 10 finalist for the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award, which will be announced tonight at the Winter Meetings
How the mid-rotation pitching market is evolving for the Mets… ✍🏻
With Taijuan Walker and Jameson Taillon off the board, the market for mid-rotation starting pitching has begun to take shape at the Winter Meetings.
Walker reportedly received four years and $72 million from the Phillies, while Taillon received four years and $68 million from the Cubs. Both potentially overpaid in dollars and years to acquire the starting pitching they needed to avoid having to surrender draft picks in the process.
What does this all mean for the Mets?
They remain in the market for a pitcher of a similar ilk to both Walker and Taillon, and remain very high on Kodai Senga, who has never pitched in the big leagues and could have command issues here but apparently has wipeout stuff and could project even higher than that of a mid-rotation starter as he adjusts to the game and routine of that at the big league level.
The Mets reportedly met with the 30-year-old Senga during his tour of major league clubs in November, and Mets manager Buck Showalter said on Tuesday in San Diego he recently met Senga himself, and came away impressed with him. Senga has spent his entire 11-year professional career in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan, posting a 2.59 ERA with 1252 strikeouts in 1089 IP at their highest level of play, although he has allowed 414 walks during that span as well. He most recently pitched to a 1.94 ERA for the Blackhawks in the Japan Pacific League in 2022 with a 3.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio while striking out an impressive 27.4 percent of the batters he faced. Per Pat Ragazzo of Sports Illustrated, Senga has a mid-90s fastball and an elite, wipeout split-fingered fastball.
But again, command appears to be an issue for Senga - he walked three batters per nine innings in Japan last season, which is actually down from his career average of 3.4. That wouldn’t necessarily translate down in the big leagues, so the Mets or any team that signs him would have to find a formula to improve that mark, which would in turn make his wipeout slider even more devastating since he would be in more favorable counts to use that pitch to get swings-and-misses.
Senga’s price tag has reportedly been rising, and SNY’s Andy Martino suggested during Mets Hot Stove on Tuesday it could be getting a little uncomfortable for the Mets. But like the Phillies and the Cubs, the Mets may have to overpay in both dollars and years for the starting pitching they need given how inflated the market is and a clear desire to continue to build upon their crop of prospects, not subtract from it.
So, is Senga the arm to do that with? Or, should they pivot more towards Chris Bassitt, a known quantity for them and their most reliable pitcher from 2022?
Of course, it takes two to tango with Bassitt and given his reported silence to-date with the Mets, it remains to be seen if Bassitt sees them as a fit.
Interestingly enough, there hasn’t been any connection or chatter about the Mets and Sean Manaea, a lefty coming off a down year but could certainly fit the mold as a rebound candidate and a mid or back-of-the-rotation starter if the chips fall right for him.
Assuming Senga and Bassitt are the best available left in the mid-rotation market, the next tier for the Mets to consider would include José Quintana and Ross Stripling with Quintana probably being the better fit for them given he’s left-handed.
And if I were the Mets, I’d strongly consider signing one of Senga or Bassitt along with one of Stripling, Manaea or Quintana. That way, they become less dependent on David Peterson and/or Tylor Megill for the fifth spot in the rotation and they can be considered for the swing role and/or for the bullpen, yet another area the Mets have to retool heading into 2023.
That’s not to say Peterson specifically doesn’t deserve a chance to be a starting pitcher. He was a savior for them all year in 2022, immediately filling in for Max Scherzer right from the jump and proving to be an effective major league pitcher in the process. Still, Peterson has work to do - he needs his off-speed pitches to become more consistent as there were too many non-competitive pitches from that part of his arsenal last season, and the quality of his strikes need to improve in order for him to be able to withstand the rigors of 25-30 starts.
That’s not to say that it won’t happen given the chance. And given where the Mets payroll appears to be going, they’re going to have to draw the line somewhere in free agency and that line may include going internal for that rotation spot now, and filling the need if necessary at the trade deadline.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Pirates won the number one draft choice in the 2023 draft in MLB’s first-ever draft lottery on Tuesday
The Cubs are guaranteeing $17.5 million to Cody Bellinger on a one-year contract (New York Post)
The Red Sox and Xander Bogaerts have made no progress towards a reunion (Boston Globe)
David Price has decided not to pitch in 2023 (New York Post)
The Giants signed Mitch Haninger to a two-year, $43.5 million contract (ESPN)
The Brewers signed former Met Adonis Medina to a minor league contract (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The Giants have shown interest in signing Sean Manaea (SF Chronicle)