Wei-Yin Chen Rumors

Orioles Close To Deal With Wei-Yin Chen

The Orioles are close to a multiyear deal with Taiwanese lefty Wei-Yin Chen, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  As a foreign player in Nippon Professional Baseball, Chen had free agency negotiated into his contract with the Chunichi Dragons.

Last year in Japan, Chen posted a 2.68 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, and 0.49 HR/9 in 164 2/3 innings.  He ranked 19th on Keith Law's top 50 free agents list.  Law offered a positive scouting report, concluding that Chen "offers more upside than the typical NPB refugee, both due to age and the chance for the slider to become a consistently plus pitch."  Chen, 26, throws relatively hard for a southpaw, as high as 92-94 when he's right according to Law.

New Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has gone the international route to supplement his rotation, having already added an NPB starter in December in Tsuyoshi Wada.

Quick Hits: Madson, Phillies, Orioles, Hanrahan

It was on this day in 2009 that the Mets signed Jason Bay to a four-year, $66MM contract.  The deal was almost immediately panned as one of the worst moves of the 2009-10 offseason and time has proven the critics right; Bay has hit just .251/.337/.386 in two injury-plagued years in New York.

Some news items as we head closer to 2012…

  • Ryan Madson is "the loser of the offseason," writes Fangraphs' Eric Seidman.  With no obvious teams still in need of a long-term closer, Seidman thinks Madson may have to settle for a one-year contract and try again for a multiyear deal next winter.  32.36% of MLBTR readers polled believe Madson will sign with the Angels, with just under 21% picking 'other' and 17.55% picking the Reds.  Though LAA and Cincinnati have cheaper closing options in the fold already, they're also looking to win now.  They'd both surely jump at Madson on a one-year deal and are probably Madson's only realistic suitors for a multiyear contract, though who knows what Scott Boras may yet pull out of his hat.  (The 'other' voters clearly know all about Boras' relationship with the Mystery Team.)
  • The Phillies aren't likely to bid on Yoenis Cespedes and Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that Jorge Soler (the other intriguing Cuban outfield prospect on the market the winter) is also too unproven and expensive for the potential $20MM+ contract he could receive from a team.
  • Also from Brookover, he lists Jonny Gomes and Scott Hairston as potential targets for the Phillies as the team looks for a fifth outfielder.  If the Phils want to spend more to fill the spot, Brookover suggests Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick.
  • The Rangers' January 18 deadline for signing Yu Darvish is also the day the "logjam will break" for Prince Fielder, opines Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post.  If the Rangers can't sign Darvish, they "will be all over Fielder" to counter the Angels' signing of Albert Pujols.
  • There are "roughly six teams that have shown consistent interest" in Wei-Yin Chen, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.  The Orioles are one, the Pirates presumably still another, and the other four are yet unknown.  
  • Also from Connolly's piece, he predicts Edwin Jackson will find at least a four-year contract on the free agent market and notes that while "Jackson's upside intrigues the Orioles," team management has shied away from that long a commitment to free agent pitchers in the past.
  • Pirates closer (and MLBTR fan) Joel Hanrahan tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he doesn't expect to receive a long-term contract offer from the Bucs this winter.  Hanrahan is projected to earn around $4MM this winter in his second trip through the arbitration process.  He said the team hasn't made contact with him or his representatives yet about his 2012 contract, but this was also the case during his first taste of arbitration last year.

AL East Notes: Jurrjens, Chen, Longoria, Yankees

Here's the latest from the AL East….

  • The Red Sox are not in on Jair Jurrjens, but the Orioles, Blue Jays, Rockies and Tigers remain in on the Braves right-hander, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • The Orioles are still interested in Chunichi Dragons left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, and the team has scouted Chen several times in Japan.  The O's were linked to Chen earlier this offseason and we've also heard that the PIrates had an interest in the free agent southpaw.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted Chen could be signed for a contract in the neighborhood of four years and under $20MM.
  • Rays third baseman Evan Longoria texted the St. Petersburg Times (reported by The Times' Marc Topkin) to deny recent internet rumors that he wanted to leave Tampa Bay.  "I don't have any idea where that rumor came from! It's completely false,'' Longoria said.  "I've said from the start I love Tampa, I love the direction we are heading as a franchise and there is no better place for me to continue to grow as a player and person.''
  • The Yankees have been quiet this winter seemingly in an attempt to avoid a hefty luxury tax penalty next season, but one AL executive doesn't think this strategy will last.  "I think they can sit back right now," the anonymous exec told The Star-Ledger's Jeff Bradley, "because on paper they have a very strong team. But do I think the Yankees won't spend aggressively if they start to dip in the win column? Not a chance. I think they'll do what they have to do to win."
  • The Athletics wanted right-hander Noah Syndergaard from the Blue Jays as part of any trade for Gio Gonzalez, reported Jeff Blair on the Fan590's Prime Time Sports radio show (passed on by Andrew Stoeten of the Drunk Jays Fans blog.)  Syndergaard was drafted 38th overall by Toronto in the 2010 draft and has posted impressive numbers in his first two years of pro ball.
  • Earlier today, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith posted a collection of Red Sox notes.

O’s Turned Down Braves’ Offer For Adam Jones?

The Braves made a run at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones earlier this month, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly reports that Atlanta offered Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, and a pitching prospect for Jones, but the O's "didn't bite," indicating how much they value their center fielder.

However, a source familiar with the negotiations tells Mark Bowman of MLB.com that the Braves merely expressed interest in Jones and did not offer any particular package. The O's told the Braves that Jones was unavailable, Bowman adds, then got back to the Braves later and asked for Jurrjens, Prado and "two other premium guys," which the Braves declined.

It was reported earlier in the month that the Orioles and Braves talked about Jurrjens and Prado, though it hadn't been confirmed that Jones was also discussed. Here are the rest of this morning's Orioles notes:

  • Connolly and Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com both address a report indicating the Orioles are in on Prince Fielder, concluding that Fielder coming to Baltimore is an extreme long-shot unless his asking price drops significantly.
  • Although the Orioles are looking for starting pitching and Roy Oswalt is reportedly willing to accept a one-year contract, the righty probably isn't a realistic target for Baltimore. The O's play in the wrong ballpark and wrong division for Oswalt to boost his stock on a make-good deal, says Connolly.
  • Connolly adds that the Orioles continue to discuss Wei-Yin Chen internally and externally.

Orioles Nearing Deal With Tsuyoshi Wada

11:22am: The Orioles are "really working on" a deal for Chen as well, tweets Connolly. There's more competition for Chen, who will likely cost more than Wada in terms of years and dollars.

9:35am: The sides are nearing a two-year, $8.15MM deal that will include an option for 2014, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links).

8:46am: The Orioles are closing in on a multiyear deal with Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles haven't finalized an agreement with the free agent, but they're "getting there." 

Wada posted a 1.51 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2011. The 30-year-old is a Dallas Braden type with "a 86-87 mph fastball, a good circle change, and a solid slider," according to Patrick Newman of FanGraphs

Connolly notes that the Orioles remain interested in left-hander Wei-Yin ChenMLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggested in November that a four-year, $20MM deal might be enough to sign the 26-year-old free agent. He posted a 2.68 ERA with 5.1 K/9 in 164 2/3 innings this past season.

Pirates Interested In Cespedes, Chen, Wada

The Pirates are interested in outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and free agent left-handers Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter links). However, they'll quickly back away if the bidding on Cespedes gets "crazy." Cespedes is expected to become a free agent relatively soon and Wada and Chen have been able to negotiate with MLB teams since free agency began Thursday.

Wada posted a 1.51 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2011. The 30-year-old is a Dallas Braden type with "a 86-87 mph fastball, a good circle change, and a solid slider," according to Patrick Newman of FanGraphs

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggested last month that a four-year, $20MM deal might be enough to sign Chen. The 26-year-old posted a 2.68 ERA with 5.1 K/9 in 164 2/3 innings this past season.

Morosi On Fielder, Randy Wells, Guthrie

A "tense three-week period that will shape [baseball's] landscape for the following year" begins today, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  His latest:

  • Agent Scott Boras has pared down Prince Fielder's sales pitch binder but still has 70 pages worth, he tells Morosi.  Morosi says Fielder's suitors are believed to be the Cubs, Nationals, Rangers, and Mariners.
  • The Cubs are open to moving Randy Wells, indicates Morosi as he lists available starting pitchers.  Wells, 29, is under team control through 2014.  MLBTR projects him to earn $2.2MM in 2012.  
  • The Angels and Orioles discussed the possibility of a Jeremy Guthrie trade in recent days.  Guthrie, 33 in April, projects to earn $8.3MM in 2012 before hitting free agency.
  • Japanese players including righty Hisashi Iwakuma, lefties Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen, and second baseman Kensuke Tanaka can begotiate with MLB teams after free agency in Japan begins Thursday.  The Yakult Swallows intend to post outfielder Norichika Aoki after the Winter Meetings, adds Morosi.

Orioles Notes: Reynolds, Tillman, Chen, Johnson

Earlier this week we learned that the Orioles are close to a deal with Korean right-hander Chong Tae-Hyon and the pact should become official after he undergoes a physical.  Here's more on the O's..

Free Agent Stock Watch: Wei-Yin Chen

Southpaw Wei-Yin Chen belongs somewhere in our top 50 free agents list, perhaps in the 20s.  Chen will likely be coming to MLB from Japan's Chunichi Dragons as a 26-year-old free agent.  The Taiwanese lefty was a foreign player in Nippon Professional Baseball, and his agents at Octagon negotiated free agency into his contract.

Chen's arm may be fresher than many hurlers coming over from Japan, given his age and the fact that his innings were limited by Tommy John surgery several years ago.  On the other hand, he's not lighting up radar guns as he once did, and his strikeout rate dipped to 5.1 per nine innings in 164 2/3 frames this year.  Chen did manage a 2.68 ERA, keeping his walks and home runs allowed down.

Chen is expected to come to MLB if he's offered a rotation job.  I don't expect the price to be exorbitant — perhaps a four-year deal worth less than $20MM would get it done.  Interest should be strong in a market light on reasonably-priced starting pitchers with upside.

NPB Rumors: Aoki, Nakajima, Chen, Kuroda, Igawa

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker has scoured Japanese newspapers for the latest rumors.

  • Yakult center fielder Norichika Aoki has asked to be posted.  Aoki hit .292/.358/.360 in 643 plate appearances in 2011.  Newman wrote last year that Aoki was "the best pure hitter Japan has produced since Ichiro," but that was before his numbers dropped off significantly in 2011.  Despite great range, Newman thought last year that Aoki's weak arm could limit him to left field in MLB.
  • Seibu shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will again ask to be posted this offseason.  Nakajima was denied that request last winter, though the Orioles and Mariners were reportedly among the interested teams.  The 29-year-old hit .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs in 633 plate appearances this year.  Newman considered Aoki Japan's second-best hitter in his August 2010 article.
  • Chunichi southpaw Wei-Yin Chen was 50/50 on moving to MLB as of October 26th.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports dubbed Chen a "likely free agent" in a report this morning.  The 26-year-old posted a 2.68 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, and 0.49 HR/9 in 164 2/3 innings this year.  He's represented by Alan Nero of Octagon.
  • The Hiroshima Carp have an offer out to Hiroki Kuroda.  Kuroda said he's happy to have received the offer from his former team.  His plans for 2012 remain unknown though.
  • Multiple Japanese teams have interest in Kei Igawa, who reached free agency after his five-year deal with the Yankees expired.