The Marlins could soon be installing a pair of veteran arms into their struggling young rotation. Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that lefty Wei-Yin Chen will be activated to start Saturday’s game against the Rockies (Twitter link), and it seems that right-hander Dan Straily won’t be far behind (link via Doug Padilla at MLB.com). Straily tossed 88 pitches in yesterday’s rehab assignment and, so long as his arm feels good today, his next outing will likely be at the big league level.
Late last season, the Marlins organization expressed uncertainty as to whether Chen, who had a minor tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, would be able to pitch at all in 2018. However, he’s made multiple rehab starts in extended spring camp and Class-A Advanced and is now set for his 2018 debut. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets that a scout who was at Chen’s most recent start felt he looked ready to return to the big leagues. Chen allowed one run on five hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings in his two Class-A rehab appearances.
A healthy Chen would have to be considered a huge bonus for the Marlins, who have routinely trotted out a collection of inexperienced arms thus far in the season. Jose Urena is the most seasoned arm in the Marlins’ rotation at present, with rookies Caleb Smith, Trevor Richards and Dillon Peters following him up. Lefty Jarlin Garcia technically isn’t a rookie, but this is his first big league season as a starter and just his second year in the Majors overall.
The 32-year-old Chen, unsurprisingly, forwent the opt-out clause in his five-year, $80MM contract this offseason, as opting out would’ve meant leaving $52MM on the table. That enormous financial commitment remains immovable for a Miami team that tore down the vast majority of its roster this offseason, and that’s highly unlikely to change regardless of how Chen performs. If Chen rounds into form, though, perhaps we’ll see Miami offer to eat a notable chunk of the remaining salary on his contract this July in an effort to at least partially unburden themselves — though a lot will need to go their way for that to even be possible.
Miami inked Chen prior to the 2016 season in large part due to the durability he displayed with the Orioles. While he never cleared the 200-inning mark in the regular season, Chen averaged 29 starts per year (30 if you count his postseason work). Since signing in Miami, however, he’s pitched a total of just 156 1/3 innings over two seasons combined, due to the previously mentioned elbow issues.
Straily, on the disabled list for the first time in his big league career, has also been working his way back via minor league rehab appearances after his 2018 debut was delayed by a forearm injury. Unlike Chen, he’ll immediately become a relatively desirable trade asset, assuming good health. Controlled for two seasons beyond 2018 and earning a modest $3.375MM this season, Straily has made 64 starts and pitched to a combined 4.01 ERA over the past two seasons combined. Straily drew plenty of interest on the trade market last summer, and it stands to reason that he’ll be in demand again as one of the few controllable starters available in trade.