Every few years, there seems to be a star player from Japan ready to make the trip to America to try their hand in MLB. And every year, the Texas Rangers seem to be involved in that market.
Last year’s sensation was Seiya Suzuki, now a Chicago Cub and before him were superstars Shohei Ohtani, Yu Darvish (former Ranger, of course), Masahiro Tanaka, Ichiro Suzuki, and many more that made the trip stateside and found massive success.
This time around, the name for the Texas Rangers to consider out of Japan is a pitcher named Koudai Senga of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. Senga is attempting to make the jump from Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues, and Chris Young’s team should be very interested.
Texas Rangers scouting history suggests interest in Japanese pitching sensation Koudai Senga
MLB teams have been coveting Senga for years, as the 29-year-old Japanese native has posted a career stat line of 103-51 with a 2.43 ERA and a WHIP of 1.095. Not to mention, he has been nothing short of phenomenal this season as well, posting an ERA of 2.06 and a WHIP of 1.038 in 131 innings, while striking out 142 and only walking 41 batters.
Senga not only puts up good numbers; he also has major league stuff as well. His fastball can sometimes touch triple digits, and he also has a forkball, a cutter, and a slider in his repertoire. While his fastball and other pitches are exciting, they don’t compete with his devastating forkball that has been described as the “ghost fork”, that essentially has so much movement that it drops off the table, making hitters look silly.
With his stat lines only getting better year by year, MLB teams will be lined up to pursue Senga this offseason as he should finally be available to come to America.
The only reason Senga hasn’t yet become an MLB pitcher is due to the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, as they often refuse to make their players available through the posting system, which makes Japanese players on NPB rosters available to be signed by MLB teams. While Senga has requested numerous times to be posted, the Hawks have denied his requests.
However, Senga has an opt-out clause in his contract that would make him eligible for international free agency this offseason. This would make him available for any interested team, including the Texas Rangers.
Why the Texas Rangers should be in the running for Koudai Senga
The Rangers are badly in need of quality pitching and they could easily find that in Senga. While the righty will be 30 years old to start the 2023 season, he has very little tread on his arm, as the Hawks used him as a reliever early in his career, so Senga could fit in nicely into this window of contention for the Rangers and could even possibly be the ace of this staff.
With his monster-level potential and his track record of being an effective pitcher, the Rangers should absolutely be interested and pursue him.
For Senga, though, why would he be interested in Texas? Well, the Rangers have had a track record of interest in players from the NPB, and have had massive success in the form of Yu Darvish. With the way Darvish was received so well in Arlington and beloved by the fans, combined with plenty of opportunities in this rotation that should allow him to take his lumps at the highest level of competition and still keep his spot regardless while he adjusts to the MLB; Senga could see a welcoming environment with the Rangers. Or at least we should hope so.
Senga’s full potential could be exactly the type of player the Texas Rangers rotation needs to make that anticipated jump into contention.
The Texas Rangers should be spending money again this off-season, with the goal of finally competing again in 2023. But while Senga alone won’t be enough, he certainly can’t hurt their odds of improving. Putting some of that free agent money aside for Senga would be wise, as he could be one of the pieces to success for this team as everything begins to piece together for the near future.