The Chicago Cubs have insisted that they are not rebuilding. Despite their struggles over the past two seasons, they have maintained that they are looking to reload, to return to contention as quickly as possible.
There are problems with that plan. The Cubs need help in multiple areas on their roster. Both corner infield spots, shortstop, and the pitching staff are already areas of need. Catcher and the outfield could be as well if Willson Contreras and Ian Happ depart for greener pastures.
Kodai Senga could be part of the answer for the Chicago Cubs
Part of the answer could be in Japan. According to David Kaplan on KNXO Des Moines on Wednesday, the Cubs are “very interested” in Kodai Senga once he officially becomes a free agent and the offseason begins.
Senga has been one of the better pitchers in Nippon Professional Baseball, someone whose journey to the majors has been expected for years. He has a lifetime 2.59 ERA and a 1.115 WHiP over his 1089 NPB innings, striking out 1252 batters with 414 walks. That dominance continued last season as he posted an impressive 1.94 ERA and a 1.056 WHiP over his 144 innings, striking out 156 batters with 49 walks.
There are some concerns as to his future role. Senga worked in the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ bullpen prior to being inserted in the rotation starting in 2015. His fastball and splitter are both plus offerings making it likely that he would have a floor as a high leverage bullpen arm. However, his excellent command allows his cutter and slider to play up, making it more likely that he will be a valuable part of a major league rotation.
The Cubs would be hoping that Senga can, at worst, be a middle of the rotation arm. They have the beginnings of a solid rotation with Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, and Keegan Thompson. Adding another arm with Senga’s potential could give the Cubs the pitching they need to contend once more.
The Chicago Cubs are reportedly interested in Kodai Senga. He could be the piece they need in the rotation to get back into contention.