The Orioles have signed Taiwanese LHP Wei-Yin Chen to a three year contract worth around $12 million with an option for the 2015 season.
I really like this signing. Dan Duquette continues his foray into the international market, signing his second left handed pitcher that was a successful starter in Japan. I liked the Wada signing even though he most likely ends up in the bullpen, but Chen has more upside. Hes only 26 and throws much harder, sitting between 90-92 and reportedly hitting up to 96 mph. He has a slow curve ball, an inconsistent slider, and worked on a forkball in 2011. If he was a pitcher in our farm system he would probably slot anywhere from 4-7 in our top 10. He had a career record of 36-30 with a 2.59 ERA over five seasons in Japan. In 2011 he was 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA over 164.2 innings with 94 strikeouts and 31 walks. He dealt with a minor leg injury for some of the season.
The O’s get great value at about $4 million a year. Sure there is some risk associated as Chen (and Wada) have to adjust to the lifestyle and five man rotation of the major leagues but he could be a steal. At worst hes a left handed power arm out of the bullpen but he could also end up as a middle of the rotation starter, which would be a steal at that price. Spring Training will be interesting as we learn more about Chen, Wada, and the rest of our new additions to the roster. We now have alot of depth at SP and I like that the young guys like Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, etc. will have to earn their places in the rotation, unlike recent years where they were handed spots. As it stands we have Jeremy Guthrie, Chen, Wada, Tommy Hunter, Dana Eveland, Arrieta, Britton, Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, and Alfredo Simon all fighting for rotation. Theres also alot to choose from for the bullpen as well. Its not something we’re used to but its nice to have. We also have the ability to trade from the depth if Duquette so chooses. Hes not done molding this team yet.