The Mets needed another starter entering this season, and after having varying levels of success with signing players from the NPB, the Mets decided to take a chance on Kodai Senga, signing the 30-year-old to a five-year $75 million contract.
Senga has been excellent in his first season in Queens, making the all-star game and pitching himself into National League Rookie of the Year contention.
Now Senga is willing to help the Mets recruit one the most intriguing players in this upcoming free agency class: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, according to a report by the New York Posts Mike Puma.
“I have known him since he was 20 years old,” Senga said through an interpreter. “He’s been at the top level since he was very young, and I know he has a ton of talent. He is an amazing player.”
Yamamoto is a pitcher for the NPBs Orix Buffaloes’, who are expected to post the righty for MLB teams this winter.
“He still has the rest of the season to get through, healthy hopefully, and the posting system,” Senga told the Post. “I think once that goes through, the team might ask me, and [Yamamoto] might ask me as well, and I would like to speak to both of them.”
Could the Mets make a run at Yamamoto
This season Yamamoto has pitched 122 innings across 17 starts to a 1.48 ERA and has struck out 125. In addition, the 24-year-old has quite the track record as he is a four-time all-star, two-time Eiji Sawamura Award winner, the Japanese baseball equivalent of the Cy-Young, and a two-time Pacific League MVP.
The Mets have been keeping tabs on Yamamoto this season, with general manager Billy Eppler already taking a trip overseas to watch the 24-year-old pitch.
Eppler has quite the experience with signing Japanese talent, as many of the most notable players that have come over from Japan in recent years have had Eppler’s fingerprints on them.
“It’s very apparent that Billy pays attention to the culture of Japan and knows how to interact with Japanese people well,” Senga said. “I felt that first-handily and his presentation skills are amazing, so I think that could work in the Mets’ favor.”
Hopefully, for the Flushing faithful, the combination of Senga’s pitch, Eppler’s connections, and Steve Cohen’s checkbook will be the right combination to recruit what many expect to be Japan’s next great talent.