Widespread interest in Wei-Yin Chen
With Kevin Gausman still yet to endure a full season of major-league work and Ubaldo Jimenez’ role uncertain, the Orioles aren’t exactly swimming in rotation depth. But that’s not stopping other teams from phoning Dan Duquette about one of his starters.
Chen, a 29-year-old lefty worth 1.4-1.8 WARP in each of his first three stateside seasons, is cheaper than most mid-rotation options on the free agent market, so it’s no surprise that he’s a hot commodity. What’s interesting, though, is that Duquette is getting calls even though he never told his GM counterparts that the Taiwanese southpaw is available, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
Signed to a three-year deal worth about $11.4 million when he crossed the Pacific in 2012, Chen is owed $4.75 million on a no-brainer club option that the Orioles exercised at the end of October. Since he’s represented by Scott Boras and a year away from testing free agency with four years of major-league experience under his belt, there’s reason for teams to wonder if Chen might be available. On the other hand, Chen is a quality depth starter who won’t be easy to replace at anything close to a comparable price.
That’s why, while Duquette is willing to listen to offers, the proposal would likely have to send back a position player who’s either controllable or owed a below-market salary. Connolly wrote that the O’s discussed a Chen-for-Howie Kendrick swap, with other pieces involved, earlier this offseason, but both sides have moved on since Duquette turned down Jerry Dipoto.
Heading into the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the Orioles probably will explore moving Ubaldo Jimenez or Bud Norris before seriously considering a deal with Chen, who’s cheap, consistent, and the only left-hander in the current starting five.
D’backs ownership nixed Ethier-for-Montero swap
New Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart has been lighting up the transactions wire with trades early this offseason, the most recent one a three-way deal that shipped Didi Gregorius to the Yankees and netted Arizona two controllable players from the Tigers. Stewart had another deal lined up in recent days—until the folks upstairs told him he couldn't pull the trigger.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal detailed the rejected barter on Saturday, citing a few possible explanations for its demise. For his part, Stewart was content to send Montero to a division rival for a starting outfielder, tacking on a couple of lower-level prospects to receive backup backstop Tim Federowicz and some cash to cover the difference in salaries. It’s possible that the cash coming from the Dodgers wouldn’t have bridged much of the $16 million gap in money owed to Ethier ($56 million) and Montero ($40 million) through 2017. If that’s wasn’t the reason, though, owner Ken Kendrick either likes Montero too much to part with him or is averse to trading him within the division.
The Dodgers could’ve used Montero as an upgrade over A.J. Ellis, a fine defensive catcher who fell off a cliff offensively in 2014. They’ll now have to look elsewhere to improve behind the dish.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks might’ve hoped that coming to the desert would revive Ethier’s bat, making him a useful left-handed-hitting corner outfielder for a club that dealt Gerardo Parra to the Brewers in July. But Stewart has already added Yasmany Tomas on a six-year pact (which isn’t official yet but should be soon), and actually has a fairly crowded outfield depth chart. Ender Inciarte, David Peralta, and A.J. Pollock all showed promise in 2014, and Cody Ross and Mark Trumbo are also hanging around, with the latter’s ability to play first base moot assuming Paul Goldschmidt is healthy. Unless Tomas sticks at third base, if Stewart adds another player to the fold, a trade exporting one of the incumbents is likely to follow.
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