NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – Kodai Senga didn’t hesitate when asked which team he expected to face on the mound with the New York Mets.
The Japanese right-hander said in English, “The Phillies’ lineup.”
The Mets are equally excited for that matchup against the National League champion.
Senga was officially introduced at a press conference at Citi Field on Monday after finalizing a five-year, $75 million deal with the Mets, who will present Justin Verlander on Tuesday.
The outgoing 29-year-old baseball player began the press conference with a message in English for fans: “Hi, I’m Kodai Senga from the New York Mets. I’m excited and happy to move to the Big Apple and join a great team.” Let’s go Mets!
General manager Billy Epler said, “He has great spirit.”
Senga will wear number 34, previously worn by Noah Syndergaard between 2015 and 2022. With the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Pacific League, he wore number 41—which was retired in Queens in honor of Hall of Famer Tom Seaver. Through social networks, he interacted with the fans and asked their opinion on the number.
“I really felt great passion from the fans in New York, there were also a lot of messages coming in about the number,” Senga said through translator Mako Albi.
Senga went 11–6 with a 2.25 ERA in 23 games last season. After being selected as a development player in the Pacific League, Senga went 88–44 with a 2.59 ERA in 11 seasons. He was a three-time All-Star and won the Japan Series five times. He led the league in strikeouts twice and threw a no-hitter in 2019.
In the Japan Series, Senga took Game 1 as the starter in his fourth consecutive title season.
“That was the thing that broke it,” Appler acknowledged of Senga’s champion experience.
He pitched three scoreless innings in two outings, allowing one hit and striking out six with six walks to help Japan win the gold medal at the last Olympic Games.
Senga signed with Colombians Jose Quintana and Verlander to replace three Mets starters who signed with other teams in 2022: Jacob deGrom with Texas, Taijuan Walker with Philadelphia and Chris Bassitt with Toronto.
The deal for Senga is part of the $476.7 million the Mets have invested in seven free agents.
In addition to Senga, Verlander and Quintana, New York retained outfielder Brandon Nimmo, closer Edwin Díaz, signed reliever David Robinson and reached an agreement with Venezuelan catcher Omar Narvaez pending a medical.