MLB Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Koudai Senga and Top Players Available

Erik BeastonDecember 10, 2022

MLB Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Koudai Senga and Top Players Available

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    Japan's Koudai Senga remains one of the most intriguing free agents available this offseason.
    AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

    Despite grabbing headlines with massive deals and the acquisition of five-time Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, the New York Mets do not appear to be finished leaving their mark on this explosive Major League Baseball offseason.

    At least if reports prove accurate.

    Could the Mets be eyeing one of the most coveted free agents in the sport in Japanese righty Koudai Senga?

    Find out with this latest collection of rumors from some of the sport's top insiders.

Mets Still Interested in Koudai Senga

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    YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Pitcher Kodai Senga #21 of Team Japan throws in the sixth inning against Team United States during the gold medal game between Team United States and Team Japan on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 07, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
    Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

    The New York Mets have spent $248.7 million this offseason on Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and hitter Brandon Nimmo. Throw in an additional $10 million for reliever David Robertson and no one would fault the team for slowing down its pursuit of free agents.

    That does not appear to be in the cards for the team, though, as Andy Martino of SportsNet New York reported the team remains interested in acquiring Koudai Senga.

    Senga is one of the best pitchers in Japan, with an 11-year career ERA of just 2.42 and a WHIP of 1.096, and he has received multiple long-term contract offers, per Kyle Glaser of Baseball America.

    The interest is not new, either. Senga has been the apple of MLB teams' eyes for years but is now ready to make the move to the United States, where he hopes to win a Cy Young award, according to his agent Joel Wolfe.

    "He knows that in order to be a very successful pitcher here, because he wants to win a Cy Young here, he wants to win the World Series, to be successful that has to, as he says, step up, step up, step up. So he wanted to know 'How can a team help me do that?'"

    The Mets are certainly in a position to do that, with arguably the best one-two rotation in the league, courtesy of Max Scherzer and Verlander, and the most dominant closer in baseball in Edwin Diaz (another $102 million).

    With the veteran leadership in the locker room and an organization clearly willing to do what is necessary to win, one would be hard-pressed to find another club that has a better setup for Senga at this point.

    Except for, maybe, the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, whose pitchers may not be household names but who, together, form one of the best rotations in the sport.

Diamondbacks Interested in Evan Longoria, Justin Turner

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    San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria waits for a pitch during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday Sept. 25, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
    AP Photo/Darryl Webb

    The Arizona Diamondbacks have been content to sit back and watch the offseason unfold to this point, but it looks like the franchise is about to become very active.

    Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported the team is interested in acquiring third baseman Evan Longoria.

    Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

    Diamondbacks are one of about five teams looking at Evan Longoria

    The team is also said to be interested in infielder Justin Turner, also per Heyman.

    Both Longoria and Turner would likely help improve a Diamondbacks team that was fifth-worst against lefties in 2022, per Statmuse.

    The likelihood the team gets a consistent, everyday starter out of either one of them is low given their age (37 and 38, respectively), but they will help improve the batting situation and are solid defenders, even this late in their careers. The veteran presence they bring to the clubhouse also cannot be underestimated.

    Both have been to the World Series with previous teams, with Turner winning one in 2020. They have experience in high-profile, high-pressure games and understand what it takes to get to the sport's pinnacle.

    For a Diamondbacks team right in the middle of the pack with a median age of 28, they can provide the type of guidance that will ultimately help the team not only return to the postseason but also move closer toward the championship that every ballplayer covets.

    Their leadership becomes even more valuable in a loaded National League, which will be incredibly difficult to come out of with the Mets, Phillies, Braves and Padres all setting up to be among the best in all of baseball.

    The Diamondbacks' interest does not end with Longoria and Turner, though.

D'backs Also Looking at Shintaro Fujinami

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    TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 10:  Pitcher Shintaro Fujinami #17 of Japan throws to first base in the top of the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool B Game Six between China and Japan at Tokyo Dome on March 10, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
    Matt Roberts/Getty Images

    The Diamondbacks are one of three teams to have shown interest in Japanese pitcher Shintaro Fujinami, per Nikkan Sports (h/t MLBTradeRumors.com).

    The Giants and Red Sox have also checked in on the right-hander.

    Fujinami is available for teams to potentially acquire as part of a 45-day window that opened up back on December 1.

    Fujinami is interesting because he started his career as one of the top prospects and performed up to expectations. Still, recent issues with controlling his pitch have proved problematic for his play and ability to stay on a Nippon Professional Baseball squad.

    The 2022 season saw him accomplish his third-lowest ERA (2.77) and the lowest WHIP of his career (1.118) across the NPB and minors, promising stats for a guy who was trending in the wrong direction just a season earlier.

    That there are three teams with eyes on Fujinami suggests he will be signed and headed stateside. What he does when he gets here against some of the best bats in the world is the question.

    Fujinami would join a rotation featuring Madison Bumgarner, Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen at the top. Kelly and Gallen were effective starters for the team, while Bumgarner has the experience in big games to help the young team succeed. The Japanese prospect would likely slide in somewhere around the four spots and may need a trip to the minors just to acquaint himself with the game.

    For a team trying to establish itself in the NL, there are worse options than taking a chance on a guy who, if he can continue to build on the momentum he had at the end of his 2022 campaign and rediscover the tools that made him one of the most coveted prospects in Japan a decade ago, would benefit them considerably by strengthening a solid rotation.

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