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.