Sep
11

Love me non-tender

By

As the Yankees gear up for a run that will hopefully take them deep into October, a former key cog of the pitching staff will be watching from the sidelines. One-time staff ace Chien-Ming Wang has been a non-factor much of the last two seasons. In a freak accident in Houston last summer, he injured his foot and never really recovered. This year, he suffered through a bad spring and underwent shoulder surgery that will sideline him until mid-2010.

For many pitchers, a stretch such as Wang’s would signal the end of a career. After winning 19 games in back-to-back seasons, Wang was historically bad this year. He went 1-6 in 12 games before surgery and allowed over two baserunners per inning. Now, his Yankee future is in doubt.

Wang is arbitration-eligible this year, and he turns 30 at the end of March. This confluence of factors along with his injury and ineffectiveness has led many to question whether the Yankees will offer Wang a contract. In a Yankee Notebook piece, Peter Abraham broached that very topic. The LoHud scribe writes:

In his first public comments since the surgery, Wang said he hopes to start playing catch again in January and believes he will pitch in the major leagues at some point in 2010. But he realizes that may not be with the Yankees.

Wang had a $5 million contract this season and is eligible for arbitration. There is virtually no chance the Yankees will offer him arbitration before the December deadline. That would leave Wang a free agent. “I would like to stay in New York,” he said. “But I don’t know what will happen.”

One possibility is that the Yankees could offer Wang a minor-league contract. Or another team could sign him to a major-league deal and hope that he returns to form. “That’s something we won’t even think about until November,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “Those are issues for another day.”

In a piece on MLB Trade Rumors, RAB’s own Mike Axisa pondered the Wang question as well. Mike too believes the Yankees will look to offer Wang a minor league contract, but the threat of another team offering him a Major League deal looms. After all, Wang will be on the 60-day disabled list until he’s ready to pitch next year. He won’t take up a 40-man spot and won’t require a major guaranteed investment.

While Cashman won’t tackle this question until November, I can’t see the Yankees letting Wang walk. The team has been loathe to commit to paying Wang, and as his recent injury history has shown, that decision has paid off. Now, though, the Yankees understand the need for pitching depth.

They also know what Wang can do if he’s healthy. While that’s a rather big “if” at this point in his career, it’s a chance the Yanks should take. I doubt Wang is expecting the same $5 million deal he received this year, and as long as the two sides can come to terms, there is no reason to for the Yankees to cut Chien-Ming Wang loose.

Categories : Pitching

76 Comments»

  1. Drew says:

    I don’t want to see him go.

  2. jim p says:

    It would be worth the risk. His bodies been wrong since his foot went bad, but that doesn’t mean he forgot how to pitch. And I’m sure he could learn a pitch or two to help him out with a diminishing (in the normal course of aging) fastball.

    This guy lead the majors in wins through 2.5 years.

  3. Salty Buggah says:

    If there is a hole in the rotation for some reason in the 2nd half, I hope Wang can fill it. I hope he regains his 2007 form with his heavy power sinker because a reduced Wang is not very enjoyable. I would hate to watch him pound a glove that doesnt belong to a Yankee.

  4. Tseng says:

    I really hope they don’t let him go. He’s probably among the players on the team I pull the most for. I think he deserves a shot and he’d be a low risk/high upside sorta thing for a mill or two (if he takes that)

    • He’s probably among the players on the team I pull the most for.

      Yeah. I think most of us pull for Wang quite a bit.

      Wait. What?

    • Ed says:

      I think he deserves a shot and he’d be a low risk/high upside sorta thing for a mill or two (if he takes that)

      They’d have to non-tender him and make him a free agent to offer him that.

      Max pay cut rules say they can’t offer him less than 80% of what he made this year. They have to offer at least $4m without non-tendering.

  5. I’m waiting for an Elvis lookalike to walk through my front door.

  6. Just Sayin says:

    You know there’s no DL during the off season, right? Thus, he’d take a roster spot all winter if he’s not non-tendered.

  7. Amol says:

    If I were his agent, I’d probably tell Wang not to sign with the Yankees. He stands a much better chance of a successful comeback if he signs with a team in the NL.

  8. dan says:

    That Mike dude over there is such a hack

  9. darthdavid says:

    14,842,675 million dollars

    is what the yankees have paid him at the end 2010 if they give him another 5 this year

    50,900,000 million dollars

    is what wang would be worth even if he doesn’t pitch next year

    That is 3.429 times the investment they put into him.

    For some comparison

    Jeter has been paid 152 million dollars and has given the team 139,900,000 on the field……

    Wang has always given them good bang for their buck. They should show some faith…

    • To play devil’s advocate: Baseball is a business of winning and not a religion. If no one thinks Wang is going to be worth $5 million in 2010, his past performance or value doesn’t dictate that they pay him that much.

      You would though make a great agent with that argument.

    • Drew says:

      That’s a lot of millions.

      I think you mean, 50.9 million dollars, or $50,900,000.

      I do agree though.

    • darthdavid says:

      14,842,675 million dollars

      is what the yankees have paid him at the end 2010 if they give him another 5 this year

      50,900,000 million dollars

      is what wang would be worth even if he doesn’t pitch next year

      That is 3.429 times the investment they put into him.

      For some comparison

      Jeter has been paid 152 million dollars and has given the team 139,900,000 on the field……

      Wang has always given them good bang for their buck. They should show some faith…

      e.e. cummings says:

      yes is a pleasant country:

      if’s wintry

      (my lovely)

      let’s open the year

      both is the very weather

      (not either)

      my treasure,

      when violets appear

      love is a deeper season

      than reason;

      my sweet one

      (and april’s where we’re)

    • How is everyone missing the fallacy here?

      Wang is an under-six service time player. Those players, if they are good, will always give you bang for the buck. It’s dishonest to compare it to Jeter, because Jeter signed a ridiculous free-agent type contract.

      • Ed says:

        Eh, I have no problem with that part of his comment. His salary and his value are what they are, regardless of rules that force them to be largely unrelated.

        The part I take issue with is justifying a value for 2010 based on all of 2005-2010. 2005-2009 is a sunk cost. The return on a past investment has zero value when discussing the value of a future investment. Or more generally, the return on a past investment has no meaning on anything unless you’re evaluating a past decision.

  10. DreDog says:

    I love the guy, but this should be a baseball decision. He’s not Jeter. Here’s what I think Cash should do:

    Sign him to a three (maybe two) year deal with buyouts every year. Have the salary and buyout increase each year to please both sides.

    The first year would be something like $2-3 million with a team option that costs $1-2 million to buy out. Then increase from there.

    He would make $3-4+ million in 2010 if they decline his option, so he isn’t really selling himself short because he probably won’t get that on the open market for 2010. He would also be fully rehabbed for his 2011 team. Not a bad deal if he falls on his face. For that security he gives up a year of arbitration for the 2nd year, and a year of FA in the third year.

    He wouldn’t have to train with entirely new people. He would be able to hang out with his buddy Cano in ST and hopefully in the bigs.

    If things work out, the Yankees get the best middle-to-back end pitcher in the majors for a decent salary in 2011/2012. If his contract is friendly enough and there is a pitching glut, you could probably trade him to an NL team for a need down the road.

    • henry frisch says:

      Incentive laden deal is best for both.

      • Bo says:

        Why would he sign that when he cant get a guaranteed deal someplace?

        We live in a world where Jon Lieber and Mark prior and Wade Miller got deals.

        You dont think some GM wont take the chance on him??

        Maybe the team in Queens??

        • No way would or should Minaya go after Wang. He can’t afford to do that, and I don’t mean financially. His team needs something proven and solid in the rotation, not a reclamation project.

        • whozat says:

          I don’t think there are a lot of teams that can afford to hand out a guaranteed deal with a base salary higher than, say, $2MM for a guy who won’t pitch til the second half.

          If the Yankee deal has a decent base, incentives for 2010, and a vesting option for 2011 if Wang comes back and makes a bunch of starts after the break…is there someone else who could afford to beat that that actually would?

        • Ed says:

          Assuming you mean Lieber’s Yankees deal, he got roughly half a million for his rehab year and $2m for the following year.

          Mark Prior got $1m in ’08 and only a minor league deal in ’09.

          Wade Miller got $1.5m from the Red Sox with $3m in incentives.

          The incentive laden deal suggested above is actually better than the deals you brought up to suggest Wang could do better.

  11. Phil McCracken says:

    While it would be nice to have him back just in case he rehabs well, there have been warning signs which have made the Yankees cautious going forward with him.

    HIs fastball velocity has been diminishing, even last season before he got injured there were a few games where he was getting hit hard.

  12. Jay says:

    All I’m saying is depth.

    He’s better than Mitre and Chad, even if he didn’t always pitch like it this year.

    Just bring him back…It would devastate me to see him successfully return to form somewhere else.

    • Reggie C. says:

      Wang wouldn’t have pitched in near 2.5 seasons when he returns, so I wouldn’t say he’d be better than Mitre or gaudin. I’m not sure if Wang was hurt the entire season (if so – he was hiding it from the trainers), but we saw the results.

      I wouldn’t factor Wang into the 2010 rotation AT ALL. Re-sign Pettitte and move Hughes to teh rotation! One of Mitre or Gaudin would likely be necessary to keep around for depth.

      • AndrewYF says:

        Gaudin and Mitre are under team control at least through next year. They can be the 2010 version of Rasner and Karstens.

        • Bo says:

          Rasner/Karstens

          Way to shoot for the moon there

          • whozat says:

            Yeah, I hate it when my 8/9 starters are replacement-level guys. Why aren’t the Yankees stockpiling proven major leaguers at AAA???

            Kennedy and ZMac will be at AAA as the 6/7 starters who are young and have potential to be average major league starters or a bit better. Mitre and Gaudin will be behind them.

            Is it reasonable to expect more than that?

            • jsbrendog says:

              Why aren’t the Yankees stockpiling proven major leaguers at AAA???

              even when they do people complain. guys like brett tomko and russ ortiz are proven #5′s in the major leagues.

  13. AndrewYF says:

    What’s more of a risk to the Yankees, $4 million (80% of $5 million), or another team picking him up and him returning to form?

    I don’t know why the Yankees wouldn’t offer him arbitration. If there’s even the smallest chance Wang can become an effective major-league pitcher again, the Yankees should not pass it up.

  14. Tank Foster says:

    I try my best to keep him around. I think there are many possible ways he could contribute.

    We don’t know if he has the ultra-serious, Dizzy Dean type, foot-ruinis-arm injury where he can never recover, but let’s assume he is able to make some sort of comeback.

    He may return to his top form (unlikely, but not impossible), and obviously this would be a huge win for the team. He may return as a durable pitcher, at reduced effectiveness, in which case we have depth for a 4th/5th starter. Finally, if he returns with good velocity and his good sinker, he could be converted to a relief pitcher, where the ground ball tendency is very useful.

    The reason I believe you keep him around is that even with the doubts about his rehab, in some sense he is no more of a gamble than someone like Ian Kennedy. At least we know Wang could pitch at a high ML level; to give up his roster spot for promising yet unproven prospects is not necessarily a safer bet.

  15. Bo says:

    This team can do better than Wang. Hes not going to sign a minor league contract. Not after the Yankees playing hardball the past 2 off seasons. Some team will give him a major league deal with an option. Like most pitchers hes probably better off in the NL anyway.

    • whozat says:

      You wouldn’t give him an incentive-laden, Lieber-style deal? The upside is great, the downside risk is the base salary + having him on the 40-man all winter.

      There’s really a better deal out there, in terms of starters?

      • Chris says:

        The problem with an incentive laden deal is the rule on lowering a players salary. I’m not sure if that only applies to arbitration or if that applies to all non-FA deals as well. My guess is that the 80% rule applies only to arbitration, but I don’t know.

        If the Yankees have to offer him $4M for next year on any contract, then an incentive laden deal isn’t very useful. Also, since incentives can only be based on playing time there isn’t much of a chance that he would earn those incentives.

        • whozat says:

          They can non-tender and re-sign him, which would make that rule not apply.

          • Do you think the non-tender risk is smaller than the risk of a relatively high base salary and taking up a 40-man spot?

          • Chris says:

            Right, but once he’s non-tendered he’s a free agent so he could sign a similar deal with anyone.

            • whozat says:

              So? Unless they think he has negative feelings towards the organization, who cares? Is there anyone else out there who can afford to spend $4MM guaranteed on a guy who won’t pitch til July, and will be questionable even then?

              Probably not, so they should be able to get him for less base salary, if they sweeten the pot with incentives and some vesting stuff.

        • Ed says:

          The 80% rule applies to any player under team control.

          Likewise with the related rule, a player’s salary can’t be less than 70% of what it was two years prior.

    • Tank Foster says:

      Bo you might be right on the second part, that Wang won’t take a minor league deal, but I’m not sure you’re right on the first part. Pitching depth in MLB stinks, and the number of guys out there who are both available and reliable, at least at a half decent (4th starter) level of effectiveness, is extremely small.

      The Yankees might be able to do better…but it depends on what they have in mind for him, and how much he costs them.

  16. RCK says:

    I really want Wang to come back. I think that they should be able to reach a reasonable deal.

    Keep in mind that he is a huge marketing boon to the team given his fame in Taiwan. Not that the Yankees need to up their brand exactly, but it is a point in Wang’s favor.

  17. AK says:

    Wang has been treated horribly by the Yankees lately and its really unfortunate. I really really hope to see him back.

  18. Greg says:

    Tough call, usually I would say just give him the 4 million, but that requires a 40-man spot.

    Yes we can throw him on the 60-day once the season starts, but not during the offseason and we have a bunch of players to protect this year.

    • Chris says:

      There are roughly 10 spots that are available this offseason:

      Molina, Hinske, Hairston, Matsui, Damon, and Towers are definites, plus they can cut Claggett, Garcia, Miranda, and Duncan

      Even if the Yankees want to keep both Wang and Nady (to offer arb for the picks), I don’t think there are 8 guys that need to be protected.

      • I don’t think Matsui’s and Damon’s spots are definites to be freed up. At least one of them, and probably both, will be back. I’d predict Hariston to be brought back for at least the first bit of ’08, unless the Yankees have a ton of faith in Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo. But, yeah, Claggett, Garcia, Miranda, Towers, and Duncan are definitely gone. I’d expect Kevin Cash to go as well.

        • CORRECTION: Not “probably both” but rather “possibly both.”

        • jsbrendog says:

          i’d really like them to keep hairston. the flexibility he gives them is great and his bat is currently much better than pena’s. i really hope they can just trade miranda even if it’s for a low level prospect, something is better than just giving him the axe.

        • Chris says:

          Damon, Hairston and Matsui may be back, but they won’t be on the roster when the rule 5 draft occurs. Even if they agree to deals before the draft, the deal won’t be finalized until after so the Yankees can have the extra roster spots.

          Kevin Cash is already gone (I believe). Towers took his spot.

  19. Okay: 40 man breakdown time!

    LOCKS TO RETURN
    Pitchers
    1. CC Sabathia
    2. A. J. Burnett
    3. Joba Chamberlain
    4. Phil Hughes
    5. Mariano Rivera
    6. Alfredo Aceves
    7. Dámaso Marté
    8. Phil Coke
    9. David Robertson
    10. Ian Kennedy
    11. Andrew Brackman
    12. Mark Melancon
    13. Wilkin De La Rosa
    14. Michael Dunn
    Position Players
    15. Derek Jeter
    16. Alex Rodriguez
    17. Mark Teixeira
    18. Jorge Posada
    19. Robinson Canó
    20. Nick Swisher
    21. Brett Gardner
    22. Melky Cabrera
    23. Francisco Cervelli
    24. Ramiro Peña
    FREE AGENTS/ARB PLAYERS LIKELY TO RETURN
    Pitchers
    25. Andy Pettitte
    26. Chad Gaudin
    27. Sergio Mitre
    28. Brian Bruney
    29. Christian Garcia
    30. Jonathan Albaladejo
    Position Players
    31. Johnny Damon
    32. Hideki Matsui
    33. Jerry Hairston, Jr.
    MINOR LEAGUERS POTENTIALLY ADDED FOR RULE V PROTECTION:
    Pitchers
    34. Ivan Nova
    35. Zach McAllister
    36. Zack Kroenke
    Position Players
    37. Austin Jackson
    38. Kevin Russo

    ———

    That would bring us back basically the same juggernaut as this year, leave us one spot for a free agent addition to either replace Hinske/Nady’s bat or add another veteran starter like Duchsherer or Sheets, and one final spot for the rehabbing CMW.

    DUMPED:
    Pitchers
    - Edwar Ramírez
    - Josh Towers
    - Anthony Claggett
    Position Players
    - José Molina
    - Shelley Duncan
    - Juan Miranda
    - Eric Hinske
    - Xavier Nady

    JMHO

  20. Patrick says:

    Agreed. The Yankees signed Jon Lieber to a $3.5 million, two-year contract. Sure, it was less money, but times are different (I’m sure the $3.5 million is probably the equivalent of between $4 and $5 million in 2009 or 2010, when the contract pays out). This is not a sentimental 7-year deal worth $100 million. If you look at other teams that probably wish they threw a few million dollars at certain players just to keep them around, maybe Wang is worth it. I’d hate to see the Wanger go somewhere else.

  21. [...] know he’s making some pretty sweet coin on the side. There’s a chance the Yanks will non-tender the righthander, and it’s hard to imagine him landing a large guaranteed contract coming off his shoulder [...]

  22. [...] headlines is usually a no-no, but that one Ben came up with was too good. Anyway, midnight tomorrow is the deadline for clubs to offer contracts to their [...]

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