Kodai Senga, a right-handed pitcher with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league, is expected to weigh offers from Major League Baseball teams this winter, according to Jon Morosi.
Senga, who will celebrate his 30th birthday in January, is an accomplished talent. This season alone, he's amassed a 2.05 ERA and a 3.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 105 innings. For his NPB career, he's posted a 2.62 ERA and a 3.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio in more than 1,000 innings.
Senga throws a number of pitches, including a pair of breaking balls. His best offerings, though, are his mid-90s fastball and his forkball. The latter is a devastating pitch that has been nicknamed the Ghost Fork on Twitter:
Kodai Senga, Bowel-Locking Ghost Fork. 👻🍴 pic.twitter.com/5t1eCa6QUK— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 7, 2021
Although Senga technically signed a five-year contract with the Hawks last offseason, his deal includes an opt-out clause that he can exercise this winter. That provision, along with his age and service time, would make him a true free agent and not someone who would be subjected to the posting system. The Hawks, for their part, have refused to "post" Senga despite his past requests.
"As a ballplayer, it's essential to live my life always aiming higher," Senga told reporters last winter about wanting to make the trek to the majors. "My thinking on that has not wavered."
The posting system, for those unaware, is the transfer portal that applies to most players who make the jump from NPB to MLB. Players are "posted" by their NPB teams, who then receive a fee based on the player's eventual contract size. MLB's international amateur free-agent rules still apply to any player who is younger than 25 years old and has fewer than six years of service; in other words, those players have their earning potential greatly suppressed.