Bruce Chen Re-Ups


2 years and $9 million. And another free agent lefty is off the market – and that is one of two big ways this signing affects Detroit. Brad Penny won’t be and shouldn’t be back, the Tigers rotation remains righty-only and Jacob Turner may not be ready to succeed as of April. These are reasons why the Tigers ought to (and probably do) have interest in acquiring a veteran southpaw. The team also has 4 good and young starters remaining in the big league rotation and plenty of pitching prospects who might be worth a shot in years to come – and big holes at second and third. These are reasons why the Tigers ought not (and probably will not) sign a guy for a lot of years or a lot of dollars, or trade precious position prospects to acquire another starter. So what the Tigers needed was a journeyman lefty – good, but not so good as to have teams climbing over one another to offer him a nine-figure deal. The best of that lot was Bruce Chen (and possibly Freddy Garcia, who also re-signed with his old club) and now he is no more. Of course, the Tigers really want a guy who would sign a deal like Penny’s – one year only at a cost of $5 million or less. Chen was good enough to get two, which to be honest is more time than the Tigers would probably have needed him for – unless Dombrowski chose to ship out one of the incumbent right-handers.

The second impact this has on Detroit is…

…through the continued development of the Kansas City Royals into a potential contender. We’ve all heard about the historical correlation between ‘top farm system’ and ‘division winner’ within 5 seasons or so – so no one will be at all surprised to see the young Royals climbing in the standings in coming seasons. The big question was and is ‘when’? The first wave of prospects hit in 2011, but overall the team still wasn’t real good. On the offensive side, it’s possible that the Royals will have ‘arrived’ by 2012. The bullpen could be finally up to par as well. The biggest question mark is the rotation, where the team’s lauded prospects haven’t made as rapid progress (and haven’t done much of anything at all at the big league level yet). KC might have enough top young hurlers to fill 2 rotation spots next year, but not 4. Their acquisition of Jonathan Sanchez was a definite step toward contention – this deal is a little different. Chen is solid, and wasn’t too expensive, and fills a hole until someone younger with a higher ceiling can take over – which is all he was doing in a KC uniform in seasons past. Relative to simply not signing anyone and hoping another prospect hit instead of missed, signing Chen definitely moves the Royals forward. Relative to dealing prospects from the lower minors for an ace or near ace, signing Chen signals that the Royals are going to plod along at a leisurely pace rather than attempting to speed up their timetable.