The Chicago Cubs have missed on another free-agent target as Japanese free-agent starting pitcher Kodai Senga signed with the New York Mets on Saturday.
Senga was heavily connected to the Cubs at the beginning of the offseason but in recent weeks, other teams such as the Mets were becoming more popular in the free-agent starting pitcher's market. The 2023 Mets now have an expected payroll that will exceed $300MM and owner Steve Cohen will need to pay an additional $100MM in luxury tax.
The Mets are certainly going to be an interesting case study for 2023. Can a team blow past each luxury tax threshold and buy their way to the World Series? Whether or not they can, the Mets are running circles around the Cubs with their offseason activity.
While there should be no expectation for the Cubs to approach nearly $400MM in luxury tax payroll obligations, the team's total active payroll as of this writing is $104,460,000. Meaning, the Cubs have significant wiggle room before they hit their luxury tax threshold at $233MM.
At $75MM for 5 years, there is no reason why the Cubs should not have beaten that offer from the Mets. Senga would have given the Cubs a legitimate top-of-the-rotation arm. Now, barring a trade, the Cubs need to be creative with their pitching staff.