Kodai Senga on recruiting Shohei Ohtani to Mets: ‘I’m going to put this hat on him right now’

Shohei Ohtani Mets Kodai Senga rumors
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres Tuesday, July 4, 2023, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Kodai Senga appears to be getting on the recruiting trail early for the New York Mets after meeting up with fellow Japanese compatriot and Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani during the 2023 MLB All-Star Game festivities in Seattle.

“I’m going to put this hat on him right now,” Senga joked when asked about any potential efforts to woo Ohtani into joining the Mets in free agency this winter.

The two were seen speaking in the outfield at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday, though Senga wouldn’t divulge much about the conversation, saying that it was “secret.”

Kodai Senga Mets
New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga throws to an Arizona Diamondbacks batter during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 5, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The future of Ohtani has gripped Major League Baseball for the past year — and it will only strengthen as the summer progresses.

The 28-year-old two-way star’s contract is up at the end of this season and if the Angels continue to struggle as they did before the All-Star break, trade talks before the Aug. 1 deadline could resurface despite general manager Perry Minasian suggesting otherwise.

Ohtani was signed by current Mets general manager Billy Eppler when he made the jump from Japan to the Angels five years ago. He’s also played on the Japanese national team with Senga multiple times.

“I’ve had a relationship with him in the past in Japan,” Ohtani said of Senga. “We played together on teams a couple times. We’ve had a couple conversations, but I haven’t really seen him since he’s joined the Mets because we haven’t played them.”

Shohei Ohtani trade rumors
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) hits a home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, June 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Senga, 30, earned All-Star honors in his rookie season after signing a five-year, $75 million to join the Mets after 11 years with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He’s gone 7-5 with a 3.31 ERA.

“I think it would be a lot of fun but obviously, we don’t know where I’m going to be, we don’t know where he’s going to be,” Senga said about potentially playing with Ohtani in the majors. “But if we cross paths, that would be great.”

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