The idea of Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts placing a mandate on team president Jed Hoyer in regard to approving the idea of spending aggressively during free agency has revitalized hope for Cubs fans that the team will be able to land the targets that they have at the top of their wish-list. At the beginning of the offseason, one of those targets was believed to be Japanese free-agent starting pitcher Kodai Senga. Senga, who has the same representation as Cubs' outfielder Seiya Suzuki, was heavily connected to the Cubs earlier this offseason but we noted on Monday that the connections between the two sides have been sparse recently.
In an update on Senga's market from the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, MLB insider Jon Heyman shared the current list of teams believed to be involved.
Considering the need that the Cubs have for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, it is encouraging to see the team still involved in Senga's market. The Cubs were once again connected to free-agent starting pitcher Jameson Taillon on Monday but Taillon would not move the needle in terms of being a significant improvement to the Cubs' starting rotation. Senga, with a plus-slider and a fastball that averaged 96 mph in 2022, would mark that impact acquisition that the Cubs need for their starting rotation.
It is interesting to note that Heyman still has the New York Mets and Texas Rangers as being involved in the market for Senga. After the Rangers signed free-agent starting pitcher Jacob deGrom to a five-year deal worth $185MM last Friday and the Mets signed Justin Verlander to a two-year deal worth $86.6MM, logic would suggest that the teams may look at the middle-tier of free-agent starting pitchers next. Senga is believed to be somewhere in between the top tier of starting pitchers available on the free-agent market and the middle tier.
Senga should be a priority target for the Cubs as if they are unable to land the Japanese, the team might be forced to overpay for a pitcher such as Taillon or veteran Corey Kluber. Taillon and Kluber certainly would have value to the Cubs but wouldn't provide the value that Senga would.