NEW YORK (AFP) — Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga joined the New York Mets on Monday, taking his place alongside idols Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the Major League Baseball club’s starting roster.
“It almost feels surreal,” Senga said through a translator at a news conference, showing off his new uniform after completing a five-year deal reportedly worth $75 million.
“I’m very happy and excited to be in the Big Apple,” Senga said in English.
“Let’s go Mets!”
The 29-year-old right-hander won five Japan Series titles with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and helped Japan win gold at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Kodai,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said.
“We’ve scouted him from afar for a number of years and we knew when he hit free agency that we would want to make this day a reality.”
Mets manager Buck Showalter, this year’s National League Manager of the Year, and Eppler were among a host of Mets officials who met with Senga in November and convinced him New York was where he needed to play.
“The Mets really showed they wanted (me),” Senga said through a translator. “And also the opportunity to pitch with such great veteran pitchers,” calling World Series champion hurlers Scherzer and Verlander “legendary pitchers” known well in Japan.
Senga said he was excited to pitch for Mets fans, who last celebrated a World Series crown in 1986.
“I hope to live up to the highest of their expectations,” Senga said.