Report: Mets add latest pricey arm, land Japanese ace Senga for $75M

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

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

It is the latest big move for free-spending owner Steve Cohen and the busy Mets during a dizzying week. Senga figures to slot into the middle of a revamped rotation headed by three-time Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Hours earlier, the Mets completed a $162 million, eight-year contract Saturday to bring back free agent center fielder Brandon Nimmo. New York also finalized deals with free agent pitchers Verlander, Jose Quintana and David Robertson in the past few days, after re-signing All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to a $102 million, five-year deal last month.

Within the last week, the Mets have committed $359.7 million to five free agents, including Senga. Throw in Diaz, who re-signed before other teams were permitted to negotiate with him, and it’s $461.7 million to six free agents this offseason – five pitchers.

Those moves push New York’s projected 2023 payroll to around $340 million right now – well beyond the highest luxury-tax threshold of $293 million. And that’s without any other major additions this winter.

Under Cohen, who bought the club in November 2020, the Mets became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. Their payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Senga, a hard-throwing right-hander, did not have to go through the posting system with the Japanese big leagues because he has 11 seasons of service time. Several teams in the United States were said to be pursuing him, including the Boston Red Sox.

“I like him,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings. “It’s tough to project those guys. But a good pitcher is a good pitcher.”

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

“You’re always thinking about the load of pitching every fifth day compared to (once a week in Japan), but they said that about some really good Japanese pitchers that came over here and did well,” Showalter said. “So he’s a good one. We’ve talked with him. And he’s impressive. You can see why they think so highly of him. I enjoyed our little talk with him.”

New York has been overhauling its pitching staff following a playoff loss to San Diego in the wild-card round.

Verlander got an $86.7 million, two-year contract that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. Quintana, another experienced starter ticketed for the rotation, signed a $26 million, two-year deal. Robertson, a veteran reliever, received $10 million for one year.

Senga, Verlander and Quintana replace the three 2022 Mets starters who became free agents this offseason: Jacob deGrom left for Texas, Taijuan Walker has a deal in place with Philadelphia pending a physical, and Chris Bassitt remains available on the open market.

The rotation also includes veteran Carlos Carrasco. New York picked up his $14 million option for next season after the 35-year-old right-hander went 15-7 with a 3.97 ERA.

David Peterson and Tylor Megill, both 27, provide depth.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.