The Giants and Cardinals are both interested in left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who calls the Royals another possible fit and says the Nationals may take a look at Chen if they don’t sign Mike Leake (a deal between the Nats and Leake is said to be unlikely at this point).
Chen, 30, is coming off a nice four-year run with the Orioles which was highlighted by a particularly strong two-year platform in 2014-15. Over the past two seasons, he’s logged a 3.44 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9 to go along with a 40.8 percent ground-ball rate in 377 innings of work. A move to any of the clubs listed could benefit Chen’s production, as he’s struggled with home runs in the American League East (career 1.24 HR/9). The Giants and Royals, in particular, play in spacious parks that tend to suppress home runs.
St. Louis offers, in my eyes, the best mix of both need and financial capability of the listed clubs. The Giants have already inked Jeff Samardzija — though they’re still connected to other arms and could bring in a second starter — while the Royals have a number of needs and have never spent the type of money which Chen figures to command. (MLBTR projected a five-year, $80MM contract.) Then again, Kansas City has a good relationship with Chen’s agent, Scott Boras, and the reigning World Champs could use a boost in the rotation.
Johnny Cueto remains the top arm on the market, but Chen is joined by Leake and Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda as one of the more intriguing arms remaining in free agency. To this point, he’s also been linked to the Cubs, whereas a return to the Orioles has been deemed unlikely. Earlier today, MLBTR’s Zach Links was on hand when Boras held court at Nashville’s Winter Meetings. Boras characterized Chen’s market as “strong” and, as Zach noted, made one of the types of comments we’ve come to expect of Boras over the years, noting that Chen’s ERA within the AL East over the past two seasons is lower than that of David Price.