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Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga and the Mets agree to 5 seasons


NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga and the New York Mets have agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract, according to a person familiar with the talks.

The person spoke to The Associated Press early Sunday on condition of anonymity because the deal hinges on a physical exam.

This is the latest big signing for team owner Steve Cohen and the Mets during a whirlwind week. Senga appears to be sitting in the middle of a revamped rotation led by three-time Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Hours earlier, the Mets finalized an eight-year, $162 million contract to reacquire center fielder Brandon Nimmo, who was a free agent. In recent days, New York also signed free-agent pitchers Verlander, Jose Quintana and David Robertson after re-signing star Edwin Diaz last month for $102 million over five seasons.

In the past week, the Mets have invested $359.7 million in five free agents, including Senga. Add Diaz, who re-signed with New York before other teams were allowed to trade him, and that’s $461.7 million in six free agents in the offseason — including five pitchers.

Right now, such deals boost New York’s projected 2023 payroll by about $340 million, well above the higher luxury tax cap of $293 million. And that’s not counting other significant additions that could be agreed upon during this winter.

With Cohen, who purchased the team in November 2020, the Mets became their top spender this year for the first time since 1989. His payroll as of August 31 was $273.9 million, but the final figures with bonds.

Senga, a powerful right-handed pitcher, did not have to go through the Japanese major league posting system as he had 11 seasons of service. Several teams in the United States were mentioned as being in demand, including the Boston Red Sox.

Senga, who turns 30 in January, went 11-6 with a 1.94 ERA in 22 starts for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Pacific League last season. He pitched three scoreless innings in two appearances for Japan against the United States in last year’s Olympics, allowing one hit and two walks and striking out six.

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