The Royals have designated Chien-Ming Wang for assignment, the team announced via Twitter. The move clears roster space for Jason Vargas, who was activated from the disabled list to start tonight’s game.
[Updated Royals roster at Roster Resource]
Wang was himself on the DL recovering from biceps tendinitis. Before being sidelined at the end of August, Wang posted a 4.22 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 1.67 K/BB rate and 49.4% ground ball rate over 53 1/3 relief innings for K.C. this season. It was Wang’s first taste of big league action since 2013, as he spent the previous two seasons bouncing around the minors with the Reds, White Sox, Braves and Mariners. Never a big strikeout pitcher even his heyday as a starter with the Yankees, Wang allowed too much contact in the form of hits and homers over the last several years, though his modest numbers in those categories this season (1.01 HR/9, 10.1 H/9) still represented some improvement. Wang also averaged 91.1 mph on his fastball, his highest velocity since 2009.
The 36-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Royals last season that guaranteed him a $1MM salary if he cracked the Major League roster. Another $250K was reportedly available for Wang to earn via relief appearance bonuses, and one would think he likely surpassed or came awfully close to unlocking those bonuses given his substantial workload.
Vargas is making his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2015. Since signing a four-year, $32MM deal with Kansas City prior to the 2014 season, Vargas has a 3.76 ERA, 2.92 K/BB rate and 6.1 K/9 over 230 innings as a Royal.