What Kodai Senga’s latest setback means for the trade deadline and his contract option


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NEW YORK — The Mets returned home from a difficult road trip to more bad news.

Ace starter Kodai Senga, who has yet to appear in a game in 2024, took another step back in his attempted return from a spring shoulder injury. Initially slated for a bullpen session Friday, Senga instead received an MRI because of continued soreness in his right triceps. With inflammation still in that shoulder, Senga was given a cortisone shot and will be shut down for three to five more days.

If all goes well after that hiatus, he’ll go back to playing catch and have to build up again to the bullpen sessions and live batting practices he had been throwing — all before embarking on a rehab assignment likely to last close to a month.

It’s thus possible — and maybe becoming probable — that Senga doesn’t return in the first half of the season. That’s obviously impactful on a Mets team that entered Friday night’s series opener against San Francisco a season-worst seven games below .500 and struggling in its rotation. The Mets may not have much of a read on Senga’s health and performance ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

But it also could play a role in the club’s longer-term roster construction. The five-year contract that Senga signed with the Mets ahead of 2023 included an opt-out after the 2025 season if Senga threw at least 400 innings in his first three major-league campaigns. A healthy Senga pitching at the level he achieved last season would undoubtedly opt out of the last two years and $28 million on his contract.

But this injury threatens Senga’s chances of reaching those 400 innings. He threw 166 1/3 frames in his rookie season, including 76 2/3 after the All-Star break. If he returns for the second half and throws the same number of innings this season, then replicates the innings load from his rookie year in 2025, he’d sneak past that innings threshold by fewer than 10 frames.

And Senga’s slow recovery from what was initially diagnosed as a moderate posterior capsule strain will likely keep the Mets cautious with his usage this season and into the next. New York kept Senga on a six-day schedule (as opposed to the typical five-day routine for most major-league starters) for most of his rookie season and planned to do so again for long stretches of this season.

For what it’s worth, Senga’s contract also includes a conditional option for the 2028 season if he misses significant time with a right elbow injury. This injury does not qualify for that option.

Francisco Alvarez hasn’t played since April 19. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

In better health news, Francisco Alvarez is progressing in his return from a torn UCL in his left thumb. Alvarez is scheduled to take batting practice for the first time Saturday.

Alvarez is working on catching the ball with his thumb protected by a splint, which he could use when back in regular-season games.

“When everything feels 100 percent, I’ll come back,” Alvarez said. “Let’s see how my body feels, how everything is going when I come back to play.”

The Mets’ initial timeline on Alvarez estimated a return in late June. In his absence, Tomás Nido has surpassed Omar Narváez for the majority of the playing time by hitting .246 with a pair of homers. The veteran Narváez is just 4-for-39 since Alvarez went down.

(Photo: Rich Schultz / Getty Images)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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