The New York Mets and Kodai Senga reached a team-friendly deal that landed them on a 5-year, $75 million contract due to an iffy physical, according to Jon Heyman. The NY Post article describes that this situation led to Senga agreeing to a less lucrative deal and that this did not become known thanks to a "good collaborative effort behind the scenes."
Earlier this week, details of Senga's contract were revealed, highlighting a 15M conditional club option for '28 if he undergoes Tommy John Surgery or a right elbow injury that places him on IL for more than 130 consecutive day. This TSJ clause is particularly atypical and worrying at the same time.
Mets pitcher Kodai Senga's right elbow could be a bigger problem than we all thought
Last January, we at Rising Apple described our concern that Senga's history could be a problem for the Mets as soon as 2023. In that article, we described how Senga has a history of shoulder and elbow injuries, causing him to lose several starts in Japan last season, with elbow tightness.
Heyman argues in his article that "it's common for Japanese pitchers to show more wear on the arm earlier since star starters in Japan throw more innings at younger ages." This does not necessarily generate peace of mind because, in the specific case of Senga, his history includes several seasons as a reliever, especially at the beginning of his career.
Still, Mets people believe that Senga's current physical condition builds them confidence for him to post a healthy season in 2023. We have to believe in this since the Mets' doctors have been quite careful with the physical exams, we just have to see what happened with Carlos Correa.
If anything, Senga's healthy presence in the Mets' rotation is vital to the team's aspirations in 2023 and beyond. The Mets ruled out re-signing Bassit because they believed in Senga's ceiling and potential. His signing with the Mets also had to do with Billy Eppler's preference, the Mets GM is renowned for his time as a scout in the Japanese market.
Senga's Ace stuff makes this signature better as long as we can get the necessary health from this Japanese pitcher. The clause covers the Mets from any contingencies with Senga's elbow, which was a smart financial move. On the gameplay side, losing Senga for an extended period of time cannot be equally covered as a clause in a contract. The third starter in a rotation like the Mets is definitely hard to replace, considering the team already has other age and injury issues.
Time will tell if this decision was the right one made by the Mets front office. In any case, let's hope that this coverage never has to be applied and we can count on an Ace Senga for five years or more.