Right-hander Kodai Senga and the New York Mets reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million contract on Saturday night. These sources confirm previous reports and include the prized Japanese pitcher as part of a free-agent spending frenzy that has increased the Mets’ payroll beyond previous records.
Senga, 29, was a star for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball for 11 seasons, pitching 1,340⅔ innings in 275 starts and going 104-51 with a 2.42 ERA. He has a fastball with triple digits on it and a split-finger fastball that he calls “the Ghost Fork” because it disappears before hitting the plate.
One of the best starting rotations in the National League will be bolstered by the free agent signings of American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and left-hander Jose Quintana, who will join incumbent ace Max Scherzer and right-hander Carlos Carrasco.
The Mets also re-signed center fielder Brandon Nimmo to an eight-year, $162 million contract and brought in right-handed reliever David Robertson to a one-year, $10 million deal during this wild week. The Senga signing was first reported by SNY. The Mets’ signings took them into uncharted territory for baseball payrolls, where the highest has always been around $300 million.
The Mets’ competitive balance-tax payroll at the moment is estimated to be around $345 million, based on adding the average annual value of all their deals. The Mets would be subject to an unprecedented luxury tax penalty if that holds true: $6 million for spending between $233 and $253 million; $8.4 million, between $253 and $273 million; $15 million for between $273 and $293 million; and $46.8 million for amounts above $293 million, or a tax rate of 90%. The Mets face a total payroll of over $421 million and a CBT bill of $76.2 million.
The fourth luxury-tax threshold is named after owner Steve Cohen, who is clearly not afraid to spend. New York could trade veterans or look to eliminate salary. The most recent beneficiary is Senga, who has a full no-trade clause and an opt-out option after the 2025 season.
And for a valid reason: Senga, Carlos Rodon, and Chris Bassitt, a former Mets right-hander, were among the few remaining top pitchers in a free agent class that saw Verlander and Jacob deGrom leave the Mets and sign elsewhere. Despite the fact that Senga never took home the Sawamura Award, which is given to Japan’s best pitcher, he has long been regarded as one of the best. In 2022, he had a 1.94 earned run average, 156 strikeouts in 144 innings, and only seven home runs allowed.
The day was won by Senga’s desire to play for the Mets and the fact that his contract does not include a posting fee because he has earned full free agency. Baseball Prospectus says that this means that the Mets are spending nearly $80 million more than the New York Yankees, which have the second-largest payroll.
Newcastle 1 – 1 West Ham
Newcastle were brought back down to earth following their Carabao Cup heroics in midweek as West Ham held them to a deserved 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.
The Magpies have made huge strides under Eddie Howe this season – with their Wembley date against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final at the end of the month clear evidence of their progress – but their form in the Premier League has been patchy of late.
Newcastle did make a stunning start to the contest, with Joe Willock’s strike inside the first minute ruled out by VAR, before Callum Wilson successfully opened the scoring just two minutes later.
But West Ham more than matched their hosts and equalised before half-time through Lucas Paqueta, who became the first player to score against Newcastle in the Premier League since November 6 and handed them their fourth draw in their last five games in the competition.
Gordon debut fails to inspire goal-shy Magpies
Newcastle remain in a strong position to return to the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2002/03 – with fifth-placed Tottenham four points behind them – but they have now drawn as many Premier League games as they have won this season (10).
Even more concerning is the number of goals the Magpies are currently scoring in the league – just two in their last five games – and they were unable to find their form in the final third after Paqueta ended their remarkable run of clean sheets.
The match started in incredible fashion, with Willock drilling the ball past Lukasz Fabianski within seconds of kick-off, but VAR ruled the strike out after the ball was shown to have just gone out of play moments earlier.
But Newcastle shook off that blow to score again just 11 seconds after the restart, with Sean Longstaff threading an excellent ball through to Wilson, who was handed far too much space by West Ham’s three-man defence before slotting past Fabianski.
But West Ham’s goalkeeper was largely untroubled for the remaining 87 minutes, and the visitors hit back when Paqueta latched onto Declan Rice’s corner and turned the ball past Nick Pope, who missed the chance to become the first English ‘keeper to record seven consecutive Premier League clean sheets.
- Newcastle made just one change, with Saint-Maximin making his first Premier League start since August in place of the suspended Guimaraes
- Gordon started on the bench following his £45m move from Everton to Newcastle
- West Ham made five changes from their FA Cup win on Monday, with Fabianski, Coufal, Rice, Paqueta and Benrahma coming into the side
Nayef Aguerd missed a great chance to earn West Ham the lead just before half-time, and the home fans – perhaps still coming down from Tuesday’s celebrations – were noticeably subdued.
Anthony Gordon’s debut from the bench following his £45m move from Everton livened up the Newcastle fans and Allan Saint-Maximin – making his first Premier League start since August – and Wilson went close.
But ultimately West Ham were able to comfortably hold onto a draw that keeps them one point above the relegation zone and extends their unbeaten run to three matches in all competitions.
Newcastle are back on Sky Sports when Eddie Howe returns to former side Bournemouth next Saturday; kick-off 5.30pm. They’re also live on Sky Sports when Liverpool visit St James’ Park on Saturday February 18; kick-off 5.30pm.
West Ham face back-to-back London derbies and welcome Chelsea to the London Stadium on Saturday February 11 in the lunchtime game; kick-off 12.30pm. They then visit Tottenham live on Sky Sports on Sunday, February 19; kick-off 4.30pm.
NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. athletes who retired more than once
For the second straight Feb. 1, Tom Brady retired from the National Football League. His first retirement lasted all of 40 days, coming back to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers minutes after the NCAA Tournament field was chosen on Selection Sunday. He’s now retired “for good” and the entire sports world knows there’s no substance behind those pair of words. You’ll know Brady is officially done with football when two straight regular seasons take place without him putting on a helmet.
Brady is far from the only athlete to have retired from professional sports on multiple occasions. Something about another large paycheck, or thinking there’s enough gas in the tank to hang with your peers, draws big-name athletes from the golf course and their homes and back into our lives. Alongside Brady, here’s a list of athletes who said their final goodbyes to spots multiple times.
Conor McGregor to make his UFC return against Michael Chandler | MMA News
Conor McGregor will make his long-awaited return to the UFC against Michael Chandler.
McGregor (22-6) and Chandler (23-8) will coach against each other on season 31 of The Ultimate Fighter, which begins in May, before the two collide in the octagon a mouth-watering season finale later in the year.
The Irish fighter hasn’t competed since breaking a leg in July 2021 during his second consecutive loss to Dustin Poirier.
His return was announced by UFC boss Dana White on Saturday but no date or venue has been confirmed.
Chandler, who is a former three-time Bellator lightweight champion, has lost three of his last four fights – including a defeat to Poirier in November.
He posted a video on Instagram with the caption: “Pumped is an understatement… See you at the top!
“The cat is out the bag! Team Chandler vs Team McGregor. Heading to Las Vegas very soon to film in the same city as my future opponent later this year, Conor McGregor.”
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