The Red Sox, still reeling from the devastating loss of Xander Bogaerts (now of the San Diego Padres) in free agency, are turning their attention elsewhere, diverting their resources to fixing a starting rotation that was among the league’s worst last season, ranking 22nd in ERA (4.49), 25th in home runs per nine innings (1.25 HR/9) and 26th in opponent batting average (.263). Following their failed pursuit of Zach Eflin, the Red Sox have pivoted to Kodai Senga, engaging in “heavy discussions” with the Japanese right-hander, according to Hector Gomez, an MLB insider based in the Dominican Republic.
An Olympic gold medalist in 2021, Senga’s career accomplishments include five championships, a no-hitter, three All-Star appearances and a pitching Triple Crown in his native Japan. Relying on a mid-90s fastball and his signature pitch, a splitter/forkball hybrid known as the “Ghost Fork,” Senga logged a 2.72 ERA over his 11-year career in Nippon Professional Baseball, spent entirely with the Fukoka SoftBank Hawks.
Boston’s biggest splash this offseason came earlier this week when the Red Sox splurged on Masataka Yoshida, a prolific hitter former teammate Adam Jones has called the “Japanese Juan Soto.” Countless NPB stars have gone on to MLB success, and while that outcome is always within the realm of possibility, players coming over from Japan carry an unusually high risk, with little to gauge how their skills will translate.
Like Yoshida, Senga comes highly regarded, though at almost 30, the Red Sox would be investing a lot (particularly if a seven-year deal is on the table) in a player whose effectiveness at the major-league level is still to be determined. However, with Chris Sale’s best years behind him and free agent Nathan Eovaldi likely headed for a change of scenery, the Red Sox are in desperate need of bodies to fill out their starting rotation and Senga would certainly address that.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only interested party with the Mets, Yankees, Cubs, Giants and Blue Jays all said to be lurking. And while the latest reports sound encouraging, the Red Sox were similarly optimistic about where they stood in negotiations with Bogaerts, only for the Padres to pull the rug out from under them.