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Orioles sign Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to three-year deal

Jan 10, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT

wei-yin chen

Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and the Orioles have agreed to a three-year contract with a team option for 2015.

No official word yet on the money involved, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the deal is expected to be worth $11-12 million.

Chen threw 165 innings with a 2.68 ERA and 94/31 K/BB ratio for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan last season and will move right into the Orioles’ rotation at age 26.

Earlier this offseason he was said to be seeking around $20 million, but averaging just 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings in Japan perhaps scared off some potential suitors. However, according to Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette the left-hander “has exceptional command” and “works off of a 92-94 mph fastball” with “a hard, slurve-like breaking ball as an out pitch.”

Guys like Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, and Aaron Harang each signed two-year deals worth $4-5 million per season, so while Chen’s contract is a year longer he’s basically being paid like a mid-rotation starter. Baltimore also signed Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year, $8 million deal, but he’s 30 years old and his upside is viewed as lesser than Chen’s.

  1. runyetirun - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    #4 starters from Asian countries are the new market inefficiency

    • DJ MC - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      You think you’re joking. However, the Orioles’ young pitching generally bombed last season and needs some support to have a hope of coming back strong. So if the choices are:

      1) Signing good Japanese-league pitchers for this money

      B) Signing crappy American pitchers for the same money

      三) Signing decent American pitchers for double the money

      I’ll take option number one. Especially after seeing what Koji Uehara could do.

      • Charles Gates - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:24 PM

        The going rate for a free agent is basically $5MM per WAR. 3 years for $12MM is a fair price. If he goes 180 IP at a 4.20 ERA, he’ll be well worth the money.

  2. posterkid88 - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Throw in Paul Maholm’s contract with the Cubs and 4-5 million is the market price for a mid rotation starter on a bad team.

  3. kinggeorge96 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Chien Ming Wang the sequel… plus he’s left handed! Watch out!

    • henryd3rd - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:33 PM

      Don’t let him run the bases during inter league play!

  4. paperlions - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Is the intent of the last paragraph to insinuate that Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, and Aaron Harang are mid-rotation starters? Are rotations 9-10 pitchers deep now? Because that’s how long a rotation would have to be for these guys to be viable “mid-rotation starter” options.

  5. randomdigits - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Good deal for the price. I would not agree with the assertion that he works off a 92-94 MPH fastball with “exceptional command”. With the exception of two starts this year he worked at 89-92.

  6. boh930 - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:23 PM


  7. joeflaccosunibrow - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    This signing was a smoke screen for the Prince Fielder signing…

    A man can dream, can’t he?…

    A man without dreams is…….married.

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