The Marlins have officially agreed to a deal with free agent lefty Wei-Yin Chen. He’ll reportedly receive a five-year, $80MM guarantee — just as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted before the offseason — but the deal negotiated between the Miami front office and the Boras Corporation is much more complicated than that.
First and foremost, while Chen won’t gain no-trade protection, the contract comes with an opt-out opportunity for the 30-year-old Chen after 2017. And he’ll receive just $28MM of the guaranteed money in the first two years of the deal ($8MM signing bonus, $6MM salary in 2016, and $14MM for 2017). That would mean the team could get two prime years of the southpaw at a very appealing rate if he opts out, though the backside of the deal could turn ugly if Chen falters. (It’s worth noting, too, that the club could pick up a draft pick via a qualifying offer in an opt-out scenario.)
In the event that Chen remains in Miami, he could pick up a vesting/player option for a sixth season by logging 180 innings in the prior campaign or 360 frames over the two preceding years. That’s a somewhat unusual provision. Presumably, Chen would gain the right to choose between a one-year guarantee or free agency if he hits the innings tally. That option could bring the deal’s total value to $96MM.
As Dierkes explained at length in the above-linked post, Chen earned that contract by posting a 3.44 ERA over 377 innings in the last two seasons. He rarely issues free passes, dominates lefties, and brings a strong low-to-mid-nineties fastball. It’s important to note, too, that Chen has missed only minimal time and has not had any reported arm issues.
Of course, there’s more to it than that, and there are some indications that the lefty may have benefited from some good fortune (including playing in front of a stellar defensive unit in Baltimore). He’s only carried a 3.91 SIERA since the start of 2014, isn’t a major strikeout or groundball pitcher, and has been susceptible to the long ball. And Chen hasn’t exactly chewed up innings; despite being ready almost every fifth day, he doesn’t tend to go deep into games.
With the move, Miami has significantly upgraded a rotation that long seemed in need of a quality arm. The team lost Henderson Alvarez to free agency after non-tendering him, and that left the club with some uncertainty behind ace Jose Fernandez. Chen will join Jarred Cosart and Tom Koehler as near-locks for the staff, with Edwin Jackson now joining in-house options such as Adam Conley, Brad Hand, David Phelps, Justin Nicolino, Jose Urena, and Kendry Flores. (Some of those names, of course, could well end up in the pen.)
As Chen turned down a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason, he’ll cost the Marlins their top non-protected pick, which will come in the second round. The club’s first selection, at seventh overall, is protected. The Orioles, meanwhile, will stand to pick up a compensation pick for losing Chen.
It’s easy to forget that the Marlins were viewed by many as a legitimate contender heading into the 2015 season. A lot has changed since then, certainly, but the team’s young core still features a lot of talent. And while Chen himself has faced his share of questions, there’s no denying that he upgrades the Miami staff.
Jon Heyman reported a deal was close on Twitter. Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweeted that a deal was in place. Miami’s ongoing negotiations were reported on Twitter by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the guaranteed money on Twitter. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter links), Heyman (links to Twitter), and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (links to Twitter) had other key contract provisions.
I will wager my immortal soul it’s not for 100 million dollars.
But whatever it is, working for the Mad Clown Loria will leave Chen feeling like it’s not enough!
He’ll make a great trade chip at the deadline this year.
Not on a 5 year deal he’s not. Then you also have to consider that this is the Marlins and the contract is probably back loaded.
No he won’t. If no one is willing to pay him as much as the Marlins right now they’re not going to give up a bunch of nice prospects in order to do it in July.
I think it’s a joke. But we all would have said the same about Reyes and Buehrle when they signed. One year later they were bringing in prospects.
Just Another Fan
Lemme guess….there’s no NTC.
Interesting. Looks like Marlins are willing to be a contender now.
For one year? Always for just one year.
Well, one step at a time, one game at a time..one year at a time.
If things break right, this team has enough talent to contend for a wild card (not beating my Mets though)
Gordon, Fernandez, Yelich, Hechavarria, Stanton (if healthy), Bour, Prado, Ozuna (if not traded), Carter Capps (if also healthy) and Chen makes for a decent roster. Wouldn’t be shocked to see them leap-frog the Nationals.
Then again, something always seems to go wrong with this team whenever they assemble talent, so I’m holding my breath here until the games begin,
Just Another Fan
Mets don’t have enough rotation depth to cover the TJs Syndergaard, deGrom & Matz are so obviously going to need this year, I could see them not making the postseason if the inevitable happens to those 3.
You can see a team not making the playoffs if they lose 60% of their rotation? Really going out on a limb there.
They’re no more likely to have TJS than every other pitcher.
This was a great move by the Marlins, I think this makes them contenders in the East. It takes some wins away from the Nats and Mets. It will be interesting to see where the wild card teams comes out of.
Most likely the N.L. Central, as both did last season or the West with the Dodgers, Giants and improved Diamondbacks all postseason threats.
I don’t see how its obvious that those three will get TJ this year. As far as I’m concerned there is no real obvious warning sign that a guy is going to need TJ. Elbow injuries usually mean a TJ, but nothing pre-injury says this guy is going to suffer TJ surgery. If something like that was so obvious to predict, teams would shy away from that guy.
I don’t know about that. I don’t think the Mets are a LOT better than before they acquired Cespedes last year. I think the NL East is wide open
Interesting to note that there was a stigma with Loria having to deal with Boras when talking about Jose Fernandez and contract agreements, leading to trade speculation. Does this still have merit? Chen seems like a “going for it” type move and he is a Boras client.
Two huge trade chips on the roster both with Boras attached, WOW
Before seeing the contract numbers, I will say I don’t like the 5th year, but I personally never like more than 4 years on pitchers. Still, as a Marlins fan, I’m floored right now. I can’t believe they actually did something. They missed put on shorter deals for Lackey and/or Kazmir, but this should significantly help the rotation. I think Chen should see improvement at Marlins Park, even with the dimensions changing.
That being said, it all goes back to the abhorrent Dee Gordon trade, as well as the terrible Latos trade, for the Marlins. They still have that depth, and they wouldn’t be needing to spend this money on a 30 year old SP. Or maybe had they used that depth on actual pieces, they wouldn’t need to do this. Anyway, now the Marlins need another bullpen arm, preferably someone that can get lefties out. They can probably use another SP as well, especially after ridiculously non-tendering Henderson Alvarez over $4 million, even though he will only miss the first month or 2.
What was wrong with the Dee Gordon trade from a marlins perspective? They got one of the best middle infielders in the game
Yes. It’s the Dodgers that are regretting the Dee Gordon trade from last season, even to this point in time with their still questionable situation at 2B.
Make that last offseason. (lol)
part of that is b/c they traded 6 years of Heaney for 1 of Kendrick. Kendrick was an upgrade over Gordon, but it kind of semi-negated the gains in that Gordon deal. That doesnt mean its not still terrible for the Marlins. On a side note, the Dodgers have multiple options at 2b. Not really any every day options, at least not at this moment, but they have a lot of guys that can play there, including Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes, who they acquired from the Marlins
given the way other people keep on making fun of the dodgers for that trade it’s fun to see a marlins fan call it “abhorrent”
personally i think it was all right for both sides, although i’m sure dodgers management didn’t expect gordon to do what he did last year. people still kind of sleeping on kee-kay and barnes, though, i think both could wind up starting-caliber players at up the middle positions, which is pretty cool.
as far as i’m concerned if the dodgers made a mistake that day it was flipping heaney for one year of kendrick
I felt the deal was horrible the moment it was made for a multitude of reasons. Considering how much I’ve talked about it since, I dont want to go into all the issues. That being said, I think you started to mention some of my problem with it. First, the Marlins had ZERO need for a 2nd baseman. I’m not entirely hung up on the players they gave up, but I would have preferred they either kept them, or used them on something they actually needed. Now, the organization has no depth at all, and they’re talking about moving players to acquire similar, and lesser, pieces to what they gave away last year. An organization like the Marlins cant afford to have a terrible farm system, and no organizational depth b/c they usually cant fix mistakes like that with money. I’ll leave it at that for now, though there is a lot more to my problem with that trade, as well as the obviously terrible trade for Latos
the fact that gordon was as good as he was has to help, though. i mean, if you really wanted to reverse it, you could probably trade him out again for the same kind of package, at least, right? i’d have to think.
I’ve consistently continued to say that I would make that return trade at any time. I have also said that I would look to move Gordon before anyone else that the Marlins have. As you said, it did help that he performed, and we should be able to get something at least close to the package we gave up for him. I just think that his value is exponentially better than it will ever be. Its not a knock on him as a person. How can anyone not like Dee Gordon? I knew that previously. With the trade having happened, I obviously rooted for him to play well. He definitely improved a lot defensively. He even hit, which surprised me (though that screams luck with all the GBs that snuck by and the .385 BABIP, which I know happens with speed guys, but is exponentially higher than any other season). Still, that plate discipline is really hard to believe at times. I’m too lazy to look it up, but I would like to see who swings at more pitches; Dee Gordon or Jeff Francouer lol…anyway, With as much speed as he has, there is no reason for Dee Gordon to be so horrible on the bases. It was embarrassingly bad, and cost the Marlins a lot of opportunities. It doesnt matter that he actually got on base near that .350-.360 clip when he got thrown out 20 times trying to steal, got picked off 7 times, and got thrown out on the bases at other times a bunch as well
Angels fan here all I can say is thank you dodgers lol.
no problem man. yeah i didn’t like that at the time and it looks even worse now. of course at that point i still thought alex guerrero was a viable second baseman, but even so
Wouldn’t the Marlins actually have to forfeit their competitive balance round A pick for this signing? Or are competitive balance picks protected too?
They already traded that pick to the Braves at the deadline.
An opt out AND a player option, I’ll never understand professional teams…
Interesting how the opt out clause is trending this off season!
Its incentive for a player to sign. No movement/trade clauses, opt-outs and player options make a deal more attractive for players. Theoretically, the team is giving up something when they offer the player these types of clauses, in return they expect the player to sign for less or ask for less years. You can’t expect a guy to sign for less than what he is asking for if the team doesn’t give up something in return.
This shows everyone how awful the market was on Chen for some reason.. Taking a measly 20m before Chen gets out of Miami in 2y at the age of 32, then deciding if it’s worth attempting to hit the market again, or taking the 3 years of the deal that actually will pay him.
Boras sure misread the market here, not to mention had to get it done with Loria, the man who is quickly becoming his arch nemesis.
So Marlins get him for $20M next two years. If he has good seasons he leaves and Marlins got his better years. Who would not do that deal.
$24-28MM depending on how the signing bonus is paid out.
Very smart move by Loria–an inexpensive trade chip at a definable cost.
“It’s easy to forget that the Marlins were viewed by many as a legitimate contender heading into the 2016 season.”
uh i think you mean 2015
Not really. The offense is basically the exact same and IMO, it’s not that bad NL wise. Granted, it will need each and every one of Hech, yelich and Bour to produce at least close to what they did in 2015. Cosart’s vertigo problems go away.. Which think read late last year they had a possible fix for? Maybe another Marlin’s fan has something on that issue?
If they could line up Fernandez, Cosart, Chen as a 1-3, then fill in with some combo of Koehler, Hand and Nicolino? I think they’d be ok. That division (NL East) is ripe and nobody is really strong anyway.
uh i was just pointing out what seemed to be a typo in the article, talking about the 2016 preseason (now) in the past tense. it appears i was right, since they’ve changed it
Yeah it was a typo.
I wonder who he’ll be playing for in 2017.
The more I think about it, the odder the deal gets. Two years, $20M is a strange pillow arrangement for a Boras client. What is essentially amounts to is a $60M insurance policy on the back end in base he’s injured or performs poorly, but Boras surely wants him to spin the dial again when the opt-out arises. That might tell you that the offers weren’t as good as he hoped.
OK,, that answers my question above. Another $8M makes it $28M for two years, a $52M insurance policy. Makes more Boras-like
Good signing by the Marlins, Chen will be solid for them. I agree with others that this is a very Boras-like contract though which is a bit of a surprise. Anyways, there’s the first compensation pick for the Orioles. Now we just need to see where Davis signs (probably not Baltimore) and get the other.
5 years/$80 million isnt bad. I had said the most I would go was 4/$71 million, so less AAV for 1 more year, and kind of comparable when you look at the breakdown of the last 3 years of the deal. The key is the opt out. Hopefully, he pitches the way he is capable of for the next 2 seasons, so he’ll opt out
A guy with a career era of 3.72 getting this much in free agency these days. He looks a bit better than Leake but man wonder how much Strasburg is going to make next year. Some teams are with their current salaries seriously need to build a good farm system or they’ll never be able to contend.