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Kodai Senga will be baseball’s best buy if he continues anywhere near the level he reached with the Mets this season as a major league rookie.

The Mets shouldn’t count on any such potential bargain if they pursue Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who is expected to be posted this offseason by the Orix Buffaloes.

A person connected to the front office of a team that may pursue Yamamoto indicated there’s a good chance the Yamamoto bidding will start somewhere in the $200 million range for six or seven years.

For context, Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-year deal worth $155 million with the Yankees, signed before the 2014 season, is the richest MLB contract received by a pitcher leaving Japan. Last winter, the Mets gave Senga a five-year contract worth $75 million that contains an opt-out after the 2025 season.

Senga, 30, didn’t miss a start this season for the Mets and finished with a 2.98 ERA while recording 202 strikeouts in 166 ⅓ innings. Several teams that pursued Senga in free agency viewed him as a reliever because of concerns about his durability.

Thought to be best-suited as a reliever by some MLB teams, Kodai Senga turned out to be one of the most consistent starters in baseball in his first season with the Mets.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Yamamoto is only 25 years old and his ceiling is higher.

“It’s legit,” said a major league talent evaluator who has watched both pitchers. “It’s better than Senga. Yamamoto is younger. I think [Yamamoto] has better fastball command. Senga’s cutter and split are probably better, but [Yamamoto] is a better pitcher, which is crazy to say because Senga is really good, too.”

Roughly a dozen teams sent executives to Japan during the season to watch Yamamoto pitch. But the projected price tag could mean even fewer teams will realistically pursue him.

Yamamoto, according to a source, is open to joining an MLB rotation that already has another Japanese pitcher. That bodes well for the Mets, who have multiple rotation vacancies to fill.

Senga’s brief tenure with the Mets is evidence of how quickly a team’s situation can change, so maybe it isn’t prudent anyway for players to concern themselves with who surrounds them.

Senga was, in part, sold on the Mets by the fact he would be pitching in the same rotation with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer and playing for manager Buck Showalter. Less than a year later, Verlander, Scherzer and Showalter have all vanished from the scene.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who helped Japan win the World Baseball Classic this past spring, is expected to ask for the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher from Japan to join the majors.
MLB Photos via Getty Images

Yamamoto and Senga pitched together on Japan’s Olympic team in 2021 and are said to have a good relationship. But ultimately it’s Steve Cohen’s financial resources that will give the Mets their best chance to land Yamamoto.

The Mets have never spent $200 million on a pitcher, but that could be about to change.

Edwin’s progress

At a time most pitchers are resting, Edwin Diaz is continuing his rehab with regular throwing sessions to increase his arm strength for next season.

The Mets have set up a bullpen for Diaz at his home in Puerto Rico and sent a trackman device to monitor his workouts. A trainer and biomechanics coach have visited the right-hander and will continue to check on him periodically.

Edwin Diaz made his way back to the Mets dugout late in the season, but with the playoffs out of reach, his return to the mound was put off until next season.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

Diaz missed this season after undergoing surgery for a torn patellar tendon in his right knee that he sustained at the WBC in a postgame celebration. Diaz might have been in position to join the Mets for a postseason run, but with the team removed from the race, a decision was reached to wait until spring training before he returns to game action. A person who speaks regularly with Diaz indicated the closer was completely on board with that decision and was appreciative of the open communication from general manager Billy Eppler and Showalter.

What did he know and when did he know it?

There are still many unanswered questions about Eppler’s resignation amid an MLB investigation he improperly utilized the injured list. Colleague Joel Sherman reported this week that Eppler would have been fired if he didn’t resign.

Multiple officials in the organization have wondered at what point Eppler might have known he was facing potential trouble. If that realization occurred during the summer, it would maybe help explain the fact that Eppler was nowhere to be found on road trips in the second half of the season. That was during a time the Mets were looking to evaluate a young cast that included Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos and Brett Baty.

Billy Eppler’s absence from second-half road trips is just a piece of a mystery that led to his departure from the team after the season.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

But if Eppler knew he was in trouble it’s unlikely Cohen realized to what degree, otherwise why bring the GM to the press conference announcing David Stearns’ hiring as president of baseball operations and reaffirm publicly your reasons for retaining Eppler?

Replacing Eppler might be on the backburner for now, with the focus on the team’s managerial vacancy.

Is the second time the charm for Gary Cohen?

For a second straight year Gary Cohen is a finalist for the Ford C. Frick award for excellence in baseball broadcasting, which is presented annually by the Hall of Fame.

The nine other finalists are Joe Buck, Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Tom Hamilton, Ernie Johnson Sr., Ken Korach, Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper and Dan Shulman.

Last summer, longtime Cubs radio voice Pat Hughes received the award.

Cohen just completed his 35th season as a Mets broadcaster, the last 18 of which have come in the SNY booth. Cohen has teamed with Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling during that stretch to form the longest-tenured baseball broadcast trio in New York history.

Thirty-five years into broadcasting Mets games, Gary Cohen could become the fourth broadcaster associated with the team to enter the Hall of Fame.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Final voting, with the winner announced at the Winter Meetings, will be conducted by the 12 living Frick award recipients and three TV/radio historians. The former living recipients of the award are Marty Brennaman, Bob Costas, Ken Harrelson, Hughes, Jaime Jarrin, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Al Michaels, Jon Miller, Eric Nadel, Bob Uecker and Dave Van Horne.

The Mets are well-represented in the Hall of Fame’s broadcasting wing, with Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Tim McCarver among the past recipients of the Frick award. To be considered, a broadcaster must have at least 10 years of continuous major league baseball service with a team, network or a combination of the two.

A long time coming for the Diamondbacks

It’s always fun when a fan base is awoken because of a surprise run in the postseason by the hometown team. Such has been the case in Arizona, where World Series expectations were non-existent as the season began and empty seats at Chase Field were plentiful.

Now the Diamondbacks — a team the Mets went 6-0 against this season, by the way — will be playing for their second first World Series title. The games in Phoenix (which I will be covering for The Post) should evoke a few memories of what I generally consider the best game I have covered: Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

The last time the Diamondbacks were in the World Series, they celebrated their first title while bringing an end to a Yankees dynasty.
Getty Images

That one featured Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens, with a relief appearance from Randy Johnson and a wild Diamondbacks rally against Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning that culminated with Luis Gonzalez’s broken-bat RBI single, ending the Yankees’ dynasty. That it all occurred only weeks after 9/11, providing a diversion for a nation immersed in grief only added to the game’s legacy.