Wei-Yin Chen Rumors

Trade Market Notes: Zobrist, Hamels, Tulo, Orioles

We’ve already heard that the Mets and Athletics have had discussions regarding the former’s interest in utility man par excellence Ben Zobrist. And New York GM Sandy Alderson has said that he is “prepared to overpay” for the right piece to boost the club’s sagging offense. In a post today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post connected those two stories, reporting that the Mets are specifically willing to offer a premium return for Zobrist. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in the above-linked piece regarding the Mets’ interest, it’s easy to see why that would be the case: he potentially offers a solution at second, third, and/or the corner outfield, all while delivering the type of on-base threat that Alderson prizes. As Sherman goes on to explain, however, in spite of New York’s apparent willingness to go past what it deems fair value for the veteran, Oakland has not made him available. With the team surging in the AL West, A’s GM Billy Beane “has tempered sell-off talks, at least for now,” per the report.

Here are some more recent trade deadline notes:

  • Despite recent public comments indicating that he’d consider a trade to any club, Cole Hamels of the Phillies has privately indicated to the team that he is not interested in going to the Blue Jays, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Hamels also appears unlikely to waive his no-trade clause for a move to the Astros, Heyman notes. But he would be amenable to being sent to the Red Sox “and possibly a few others,” per the report.
  • Even if the Rockies are otherwise willing to move franchise star Troy Tulowitzki, writes Heyman, his value is down so far that a rival GM says he’s not sure another team would take on the rest of his contract — even before considering giving up pieces in return. And a source tells Heyman that owner Dick Monfort is exceedingly unlikely to keep a significant piece of that deal in order to get more value from Tulo. Yet another general manager said that Tulowitzki has not exhibited the same “lower half explosiveness” that he did before undergoing hip surgery last year.
  • Heyman has items from much of the rest of the league, with a particular focus on possible sellers, in the column. It’s well worth a full read.
  • After entering the year with eleven free agents-to-be on the roster, the Orioles have pared that down to eight after designating Delmon Young, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com observes. The team still has little interest in moving any of those players in order to get some value back before they hit the market: as Kubatko puts it, “the Orioles are going for it again.” That makes deals involving lefty Wei-Yin Chen, slugger Chris Davis, or catcher Matt Wieters are highly unlikely, despite the fact that all are set to hit the open market. “[Chen] can help us win a championship and he’ll be here,” said manager Buck Showalter of his team’s best starter this season. “There aren’t many left-handed starters who are in the top 10 in ERA floating around and we couldn’t trade him for someone better.”

AL Notes: Martinez, Luhnow, Chen, Schafer

The Mariners have named former franchise star Edgar Martinez their new hitting coach, writes Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Martinez will replace Howard Johnson who has been reassigned elsewhere in the organization. Seattle’s offense has struggled despite the notable additions of Nelson Cruz over the offseason and Mark Trumbo earlier this month. The team has the lowest batting average in the league. Only the Phillies, Brewers, and White Sox are worse by on base percentage. The Mariners will hope Martinez can teach some of the skills that helped him to a .312/.418/.515 line over 7,213 plate appearances.

  • While Astros GM Jeff Luhnow claims to be on good terms with his former St. Louis co-workers, a top player agent tells MLBTR’s Zach Links that it’s not entirely true (via Twitter). No elaboration was provided, but Links did mention (tweet) that the agent called Luhnow “very smart.” While it may seem like little more than gossip, there could be an undercurrent of motive if Luhnow had made some enemies in his former organization.
  • Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was understandably unhappy about being optioned to Class-A despite good numbers. However, he isn’t worried about the incident affecting his relationship with the Orioles, reports Steve Melewski of MASN.com. Baltimore’s decision to option Chen will have no obvious financial implications for the lefty since he’ll return to the rotation next week. The club was simply looking to activate Chris Parmelee, and Chen had options.
  • The Twins released Jordan Schafer on Thursday in part because he would have declined an attempt to reassign him to the minors, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN. As a player with more than five years of service time, Schafer could refuse reassignment without forfeiting pay. Wolfson adds that Schafer is healthy.

AL East Notes: A-Rod, Red Sox, Chen

The filing deadline for Alex Rodriguez‘s potential grievance against the Yankees has been put on hold by agreement between MLB and the player’s union, the Associated Press reports (via the New York Times). Presumably, the deal was struck to avoid a major sideshow and to allow the sides more time to work out an agreement regarding the disputed milestone marketing bonuses contemplated in A-Rod’s contract. One of those bonuses was triggered recently when Rodriguez tied Willie Mays on the all-time home run list with his 660th long ball. The team has offered to settle the issue by making a charitable payment (of less than the $6MM provided in the deal) in Rodriguez’s name, per the report.

  • The Red Sox bet on bats, says WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, and they haven’t come through to the extent necessary to overcome the team’s other deficiencies. Bradford argues that is is due not only to the talent on the current roster, but the club’s need for “a flat-out bigger dose of player-driven accountability.” In an appearance on WEEI radio today (via Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, on Twitter), manager John Farrell said that effort is not a problem, at least currently, though he acknowledged that “there have been times where we’ve had incidents with [effort] that had to be addressed.”
  • Looking forward, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues that the Red Sox may need to figure out a way to move forward with only one of David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez on next year’s roster. That could be a tall order (and a potentially painful one) given Ortiz’s rather iconic standing and apparent intention to play next year, combined with HanRam’s big contract and current lack of productivity on defense.
  • Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen was recently optioned despite his excellent results this year, with the team citing fatigue, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun explains. Of course, moving Chen down for ten days also allows the club to skip his upcoming start against the lefty-mashing Blue Jays while freeing a roster spot that the club used to add Chris Parmelee (and prevent him from exercising his opt-out clause). Chen’s agent, Scott Boras, called it a “grossly irregular” move that disrupted the starter’s routine. Ultimately, Baltimore had the right to utilize one of Chen’s options, of course, and service time does not appear to be an issue. But it is a rather interesting and unusual move to demote an established starter, even for an organization that has taken full advantage of the chance to shuttle players between the minors and active roster in recent years.


AL East Notes: Kelly, Cueto, Whitley, Harvey

Red Sox righty Joe Kelly had the luxury of having Yadier Molina call his games with the Cardinals, yet Kelly is now having to manage his own games, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  Kelly has gotten off to a rough start in Boston, and he admits “my stats don’t show, but I feel like I’m better at” reading situations and recognizing what pitches to throw at the right times.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Twenty scouts were in Cincinnati to watch Johnny Cueto‘s start tonight, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News reports.  The group included high-ranking evaluators from the Blue Jays and Padres.  Cueto delivered another impressive start (7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 9 K) for his audience in a no-decision in the Reds‘ 4-3 victory over the Giants.
  • Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s game after just 1 2/3 innings due to an elbow injury.  Whitley will undergo an MRI tomorrow and he told reporters (including Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog) that he has been coping with the injury for a while but hadn’t told the club about it until tonight.
  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey will visit Dr. James Andrews next week in regards to his injured right elbow, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Harvey underwent an MRI yesterday and O’s executive VP Dan Duquette said the club believes the injury is a flexor mass strain in Harvey’s right forearm.  Duquette is hopeful the injury won’t require surgery and Harvey can return to action this season after a rest period, though these plans will likely change if Andrews disagrees with the initial diagnosis.  Harvey, the 22nd overall pick of the 2013 draft, drew high placements in preseason prospect rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law (16th), MLB.com (41st) and Baseball America (68th).
  • The Orioles have ten players scheduled for free agency this winter, and if MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko were to set an over/under of three players re-signed by the team, he would “take the under if pressed to wager today.”  The free agent trio represented by Scott Boras (Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters) may potentially be the likeliest to depart, and Kubatko says “you’ll find plenty of people in the industry, and at least a few in the Orioles organization, who are making that assumption.”  Kubatko does stress that it’s still far too early to guess with any certainty about who could be leaving or staying, however — in Wieters’ case, for instance, he has yet to even hit the field this season.

Orioles Notes: Chen, Davis, Wieters, Bastardo

Orioles executive Dan Duquette says his team attempted to trade for pitching Wednesday, but that attempt fell through, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. That means the Orioles might not end up accomplishing much more at the Winter Meetings than making a selection in the Rule 5 Draft. “Keep in mind who the Orioles are,” says Duquette. “We’ve got an established pitching staff. We’ve got a strong everyday lineup. We’ve got to fill a few holes. We’re going to look at some options in the major league free-agent market and sign a couple players.” The Orioles have received plenty of trade interest in starter Wei-Yin Chen, Encina writes. Here are more notes on the Orioles.

  • Agent Scott Boras expresses optimism that the Orioles can work out ways to keep Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, Encina reports. Both players are eligible for free agency after the season. “I do think there’s a chance with all players,” Boras says. “Dan and I talk a great deal and, obviously, we have to do our arbitration for annual contracts here soon. I think both players enjoy playing in Baltimore.” Boras says he and Duquette have not talked about a potential extension for Chen.
  • The Orioles discussed a trade with the Phillies for lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo before Philadelphia shipped Bastardo to the Pirates, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. (That’s not the unconsummated pitching trade that Duquette alluded to, Kubatko clarifies in a reply.) Even with the departure of Andrew Miller, the Orioles already have several good lefties in Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland and Brian Matusz, although Britton is slated to close and MacFarland could pitch in the Triple-A rotation.

Orioles Receiving Interest In Wei-Yin Chen, Discussed Trade With Angels

The Orioles feel trade interest in left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is “very high,” as they’ve received more calls about Chen than any other player on their 25-man roster, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.

The O’s are listening to offers since Chen is a free agent after the 2015 season, though they’re not shopping the southpaw.  In fact, Connolly notes that Chen (after Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman) is the least-likeliest Oriole starter to be traded since he is coming off a strong season and is the rotation’s only lefty.  Though Chen only comes with one year of control, the Orioles could acquire “a healthy return of either prospects or immediate major league help,” one talent evaluator tells Connolly.

The Angels were one team that had particular interest in Chen, and they discussed a deal with the O’s that would’ve seen second baseman Howie Kendrick go to Baltimore.  The Orioles ultimately rejected the offer and talks between the two sides appear to be finished, Connolly reports, as the Halos are apparently no longer looking to deal Kendrick for pitching depth.

In October, the O’s made the easy call to exercise their $4.75MM option on Chen’s services for 2015.  Chen posted a 3.54 ERA, 3.89 K/BB and 6.6 K/9 over 185 2/3 IP for Baltimore, and he’s been a solid contributor in all three of his seasons with the Orioles, amassing 6.7 fWAR/6.2 rWAR in that span.  Another good year could put the 29-year-old in position for a nice multiyear contract in free agency next offseason, which could put Chen out of Baltimore’s price range, especially since he’s represented by Scott Boras.

Bud Norris has also received some trade interest, Connolly reports, and it’s safe to assume the Orioles would be much more open to dealing Norris than Chen.  While Norris is also coming off a solid season, he hasn’t been as consistent as Chen over the last three seasons, plus he’s much pricier — MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects Norris for an $8.7MM salary via arbitration this winter.


Orioles Exercise Options On Chen, O’Day; Decline Options On Markakis, Hundley

The Orioles announced that they have exercised their club options on left-hander Wei-Yin Chen ($4.75MM) and right-hander Darren O’Day ($4.25MM). Additionally, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the team has declined its half of Nick Markakis‘ $17.5MM mutual option (in favor of a $2MM buyout) and declined Nick Hundley‘s $5MM option.

The decision to pick up the options on Chen and O’Day was an easy one, as both appear to be bargain rates relative to the level of production of each pitcher. Chen, a 29-year-old left-hander signed out of Taiwan, has been solid in three seasons for the Orioles and enjoyed his best year in 2014. In 185 2/3 innings in the Baltimore rotation, he pitched to a 3.54 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 41 percent ground-ball rate. In three years with the O’s, he’s totaled a 3.86 ERA in 515 1/3 innings while playing on a three-year, $11.388MM contract.

O’Day, who turned 32 last week, has been an integral part of the Orioles’ bullpen over the past three seasons but turned in his best work this year. Though he has a 2.05 ERA over 197 2/3 total innings in Baltimore, he pitched to a 1.70 mark this year to go along with 9.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate.

Markakis has been with the Orioles since being selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft. In nine seasons with Baltimore, he’s posted a cumulative line of .290/.358/.435. This past season, he posted a .276/.342/.386 line with 14 homers and a total of 2.5 fWAR/2.1 rWAR — a solid rebound campaign as he hits the open market for the first time. First, however, the O’s will have to decide whether or not to make him a $15.3MM qualifying offer. (I recently profiled Markakis and pegged him for a four-year deal without a QO and three years if he gets one.)

Hundley, 31, was acquired in exchange for lefty Troy Patton after Matt Wieters went down for the season due to Tommy John surgery. In 50 games and 174 plate appearances with the O’s, the former Padre batted .233/.273/.352 with five homers. He caught 19 percent of opposing base-stealers and graded out as a slightly above-average pitch-framer, per Baseball Prospectus.


Orioles Notes: Hardy, Cruz, Chen, Santana

Let's take a look at a few notes out of Orioles camp to start out the day:  …

  • Late last week, Baltimore had an in-person meeting with J.J. Hardy's agent regarding the initiation of extension discussions, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Though both sides have indicated an interest at keeping the shortstop off of next year's free agent market, Hardy said recently that no talks had taken place.
  • Baltimore is expected to announce later today that Nelson Cruz has signed a one-year deal and passed his physical, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. A press conference is likely to occur tomorrow.
  • Southpaw starter Wei-Yin Chen, who inked a three-year deal out of Taiwan before the 2012 season, is set to become a free agent after either 2014 or 2015, says Kubatko. (His deal contains a $4.75MM club option with a $372K buyout for 2015.) Though Chen's Baseball-Reference page indicates that he would qualify for arbitration beginning next year, and stay under club control through 2017, that is not the case.
  • Multiple sources tell Kubatko that the O's are not in on free agent starter Ervin Santana. The club would need only sacrifice its third-round pick to ink Santana or one of the other remaining free agents tied to draft compensation (Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew), having already given up its first and second to land Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Yankees, Romero

The home run by the Athletics' Adam Rosales that never was on Wednesday could become the shot heard around the world in the debate over instant replay. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle are both advocating for a five-man umpiring crew. Haudricourt rebuts arguments that it is too expensive to add a fifth umpire or too time consuming to expand replay noting MLB is an $8B industry and the discussions over blown calls waste more time than a replay. Slusser supports a fifth umpire to monitor games from a booth in the press box and a neutral crew in New York of perhaps three people to have access to all available replay angles and make the final call on all video reviews. John Shea, Slusser's colleague at the Chronicle, doesn't believe expanded replay will help immediately because, until umpires are better held accountable for their errors, you cannot trust the people overseeing the system. Let's review the news from the American League East:

  • Wei-Yin Chen left today's game with what the Orioles are calling a strained right oblique although the lefty hopes it is only a cramp and will be evaluated on their off day, tweets Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. The Orioles have several in-house options, if Chen lands on the disabled list, tweets CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff, including Jair Jurrjens, who has a June 15 opt-out clause. Jake Arrieta, another possible in-house candidate, did not make his scheduled start in Triple-A today because of a tender shoulder, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN.com (via Twitter)
  • The Yankees will soon face some tough decisions regarding roster spots and playing time as several of their injured players are nearing a return to action, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • The Blue Jays will remain patient with Ricky Romero because of the $23.1MM guaranteed the left-hander through 2015, even if it is just to make him attractive in a trade, according to the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. That patience will be further tested by Romero's dismal debut at Triple-A Buffalo yesterday: six runs allowed on ten hits with five walks, a balk, and a wild pitch in 3 2/3 innings. "I guess it’s a little disappointing to see those numbers but I know he’s still working hard and I still think he’s on the right path,” Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

East Notes: Red Sox, Napoli, Chen, Stanton

The Red Sox have dropped three straight heading into tonight's game against the Blue Jays, but they find themselves very much in the AL East mix early in the season.  Boston's front office took some criticism this offseason for their moves, but so far, things are going well for them as their acquisitions are paying off.  Here's more on that and other notes out of the AL and NL East..

  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) ran down his top ten free agent signings of the winter and the Red Sox make the list twice thanks to Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster.  Napoli's deal was in flux for some time thanks to hip troubles, but his current performance could push Boston to consider giving him back his original three-year, $39MM pact.  Dempster, meanwhile, turned down a more lucrative offer from the Brewers and seems to have found a home in Boston where he turned in a 2.93 ERA with 11.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 through seven starts.
  • After switching from Octagon to agent Scott Boras, Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen says that the club has yet to approach him about an extension, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.  “I believe [Boras] is a really professional agent and he’s not only helped me on the field, but off the field, too,” Chen said through an interpreter. “I trust him, and I think I will have a better career with him.
  • Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton has been the subject of trade speculation for months, but manager Mike Redmond still isn't sure when he'll be back in action after his recent hamstring injury, tweets Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post.  “We still don’t have time frame for him He’s still a ways off," said the skipper.