The Marlins “remain in active negotiations” with southpaw Wei-Yin Chen, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Rosenthal first said there was interest between the sides a few days back. Miami is not alone in pursuit, and the market is “evolving rapidly,” per the report.
Chen, a client of Scott Boras, is arguably the best pitcher left on the open market. Certainly, he came into the winter with the strongest earning power of those arms yet to have sign: MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked him the 13th overall free agent and valued him at five years and $80MM. Dierkes also took a full look at Chen’s open-market case in a free agent profile.
For Miami, the rotation has long been an area of focus, but the club has only added Edwin Jackson thus far. While he certainly builds out depth, it’s been a while since he was an effective rotation piece. And given the minimal financial commitment and availability of a bullpen role, it’s certainly possible that he could simply be utilized in a swingman capacity.
The Fish have a bit of an edge over other possible suitors for Chen, in that they have a protected first-round draft pick. Without the threat of losing a top selection, the club’s opportunity cost is much lower than those teams that would part with a valuable young piece. Of course, some of the other clubs rumored to have interest may not need to factor that too heavily, either, whether because they have already punted their top pick (e.g., Nationals), don’t have a strong draft position (e.g., Royals), or could sign other QO-bound free agents as well (e.g., Orioles).
Chen isn’t alone, of course. While the focus has been on the number of significant bats still available, he forms rather an impressive trio — along with Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy — of still-available-starters. All three require draft compensation to sign.