The Detroit Tigers are in need of starting pitching. That much, at least, is true.
Detroit enters the offseason sporting a rotation that is peppered with inexperience and unsightly earned run averages.
The good news is that general manager Al Avila is going after starting pitchers. The relatively new-on-the-job Avila stated in a Detroit Free Press article that the Tigers are in the market for two starters. “I think two starting pitchers added to that rotation will bring down some of these guys that we don’t want to force feed and we want there in Triple-A and it will give us some of the depth that we need.”
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Is one of those pitchers current free agent Wei-Yin Chen?
Signing Chen certainly fits in with what we’ve heard about the Tigers’ potential dealings this offseason.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press quotes Avila as saying that the Tigers have “met mostly with agents of free agent pitchers.”
Additionally, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Detroit will go after “good second-tier free agents.”
The now former Baltimore Oriole is a free agent pitcher and is in the second tier of free agent starting pitchers. He may not be in the David Price/Zack Greinke category, but he’s a standout pitcher nonetheless.
The 30-year-old Chen certainly brings some experience with him. Despite only four of service time in the majors, the left-handed pitcher has already amassed 46 wins and a collective 10 WAR.
Jul 21, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen (16) pitches against the New York Yankees during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
He’s won 27 games over the past two seasons while posting a 3.44 ERA in the process. Over the past two years Chen has tossed 377 innings and struck out 289 batters.
From a production standpoint, the former Baltimore starting pitcher is certainly a fit. The question becomes whether or not the Tigers will meet his asking price in free agency.
MLBTradeRumors.com, who incidentally predict that the pitcher will sign with the Tigers, are forecasting a five-year, $80 million contract for Chen. This certainly wouldn’t be a massive overpay for a pitcher with Chen’s track record, but the Taiwan native is 30-years-old. Paying a 35-year-old (Chen age when the contract reaches its final year) $16 million seems a little rich for any team’s blood. It’s purely speculation, but a four-year contract at the same $16 million salary per season could work for the Tigers. The potential deal wouldn’t hinder the team too much in future spending while providing an immediate upgrade in the rotation.