A Bronx return remains Wang’s first choice


Upon his arrival in Taiwan, Chien-Ming Wang demonstrated exercises for reporters. (Via the AP)

In my mind, Chien-Ming Wang is the late ’00s version of the lost Yankee. Through his first 97 starts in the Big Leagues, he had won 54 of them and had sported an ERA of 3.79. He didn’t strike too many guys out, but he went deep into games and used a devastating sinker to keep opponents from elevating the ball.

And then disaster struck in Houston on June 15, 2008. Wang, already showing signs of inconsistency in 2008, injured his foot in a freak baserunning accident, and has never been the same pitcher. He was flat-out awful in 2009 and eventually underwent another shoulder surgery. Now, the Yanks might simply say good bye to the right-hander by non-tendering him. Wang will be 30 come Opening Day and hasn’t been regularly since 2007. The organization wasn’t fooled by his 54 wins and 3.79 ERAs, and with replacements on hand in the Bronx, the Wang era may be over.

Yesterday, Joe explored how Chien-Ming Wang would be open to the idea of pitching for the Dodgers. Wang, after all, knows Joe Torre quite well from their years together in the Bronx, and the National League makes every good pitcher better. But I thought the story odd. Even though Wang hasn’t yet re-upped for 2010 with the Yanks, he’s still under team control (at least for the next few weeks), and other teams can’t talk to him.

So what did Wang actually say? Well, the remarks were given at a press conference upon his arrival back in Taiwan. Wang is a national celebrity in his home country, and the press hinge on his every word. Although the rumors focused on the Dodgers, Wang’s focus is on the Yanks. “I will try my best to secure a return to Major League Baseball, and my first choice would be the Yankees though it would be okay for me to pitch for any other MLB team,” he said. Once another reporter asked about the Dodgers due to the Joe Torre connection, Wang said he would be open to the idea.

The right-hander will begin throwing on December 1, and the Yankees will be able to judge his process before making a decision on his contract status. Joe wrote here yesterday about an arbitration offer, but I dissent. I think $6 million is too great a commitment to a pitcher who is coming off his second shoulder injury and hasn’t thrown more than 95 innings since 2007. I would welcome Wang back to the Bronx, but if he signs elsewhere, I would be okay with it too. For sinkerballers who lose that touch, the end is rather unpleasant to watch.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Dave says:

    I would love to have Wang Back.

    But of course depending upon the years and money.

  2. steve (different one) says:

    yeah. the problem is that Wang won’t be ready by opening day. so you’re really paying $6M for part of a season. making it more like signing a $10-12M pitcher. don’t really see how that makes any sense, despite the fact that i am a fan of the guy and will miss him if he leaves.

    but the system is set up in a certain way, and in this case, it doesn’t leave the yankees with much of a choice.

    • Evil Empire says:

      It is important to note that Wang is also arb eligible in 2011, so its a gamble for that extra year of control as well. I think Wang is worth the $6M gamble because its the Yankees money. Will that move really affect any other personnel decisions besides him taking up a roster spot?

      That said, if the read on him is that we can get him for cheaper than that by taking advantage of his comfort level with the team and his personal marketability because of being associated with the New York Yankees brand, well then, more power to Cashman & Co. As long as we keep him one way or the other, I’m down. But he is worth the gamble, of that I remain convinced.

      • steve (different one) says:

        sure, but if there is a good chance you are pissing away the $6M in 2010, who cares if he is under control for 2011? he’d get another $7-8M in arbitration, and then you’d have to include the $6M as part of his true “cost” for 2011.

        not really a bargain anymore. it’s basically free agent pricing. in an offseason where Halladay, Lee, Webb, Beckett (yuck) could all be available.

        • steve (different one) says:

          just to add on, i think there is close to 0% chance that the Yankees offer him arbitration, so we as fans should begin to prepare for the possibility of seeing him in another uniform.

          you may think the $6M gamble is “worth it”, but i don’t think it’s even on the table right now for the yankees. no team would tender a guy in his situation.

          • Evil Empire says:

            Oh I realize that, that’s true I’m sure. And if that is the case, the Yankees should still make sure they’re the high bidder. If we end up getting him back for half the price, its a great move. Again, the Yankees can afford to go the safer route of just giving him arb, but I respect the philosophy of trying to get him for cheaper and tend to agree in most cases … but not Wang.

        • Evil Empire says:

          Well if he completely fails in 2010 then you jettison him afterwards – if he hasn’t rebounded after this season then you’d evaluate the situation in an entirely different way and most likely choose to not commit another $7M.

          I agree, that $6M might not payoff, but its a medium risk / high reward type of move that the Yankees can afford to make – no sentimentality involved.

        • Well if the $6M is pissed away in 2010, then you don’t spend the $7-8M in arbitration for the 2011 season, so that’s irrelevant. If you bring him back for $6M (or a bit less) in 2010 and then bring him back again in 2011 for $7-8M, that means he performed well enough in 2010 that you want to bring him back in 2011, which makes the whole deal a win for the Yankees. That means they would have gotten a good 3-4 starter for 2 years for about $13M (probably less), and that’s a good deal.

          Now… I’ve never been a huge CMW fan and I won’t be heartbroken if the Yanks don’t bring him back… I just want to clarify what’s being risked here. The only risk is really the 2010 money. If the Yanks can give him that 2010 money without changing any other plans (if that’s just ‘extra money’ to them), then I don’t see why they wouldn’t explore bringing him back.

          • steve (different one) says:

            correct. EE clarified his point (though he didn’t really need to, i just misinterpreted originally).

            got it now.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

        I honestly think that Wang would not win arbitration. So saying $6 million, is being generous.

        • steve (different one) says:

          i thought pre-FA players are basically guaranteed a raise?

          • Evil Empire says:

            Nope. They can make, I believe, as little as 80% of their most recent salary.

          • In theory, a team can offer a player in arbitration 80% of the player’s previous year’s salary. In practice, no arbitration award has ever granted a player less than what he made the season before.

            Outside of arbitration, it’s a negotiation, and teams and players can agree on a lesser salary.

            • Evil Empire says:

              That’s an interesting bit of info, that no one’s ever gotten less than 100% of their previous salary.

              CMW got $5M last year, but I don’t have a good enough pulse for arb hearings to say whether CMW could get more than, though my gut instinct is that he could get a modest raise of less than $500,000 if they were to go that route.

              • “… my gut instinct is that he could get a modest raise of less than $500,000 if they were to go that route.”

                That’s not how arbitration works though. The player and the team each submit a figure to the arbitrator, and the arbitrator chooses one of the figures. If they go to arbitration the idea that he could get a $500,000 raise won’t matter if the Yanks offer him the same salary as 2009 or lower and he asks for a $1M raise.

                It all depends on the figures he and the Yanks submit to the arbitrator.

                • Evil Empire says:

                  Understood. I’m just going under the impression that Wang and his agent would have to submit for a modest raise in order to have a chance at winning the hearing.

                • Evil Empire says:

                  …but as I think about it, if he wanted a raise of less than $500K and the Yankees were willing to offer him $5M to begin with, they would probably settle before arb.

                  Common sense fail.

            • DonnieBaseballHallof Fame says:

              “Outside of arbitration, it’s a negotiation, and teams and players can agree on a lesser salary.”

              This is what my approach would be if I was on either side, play or team.

              Why is this not done more? Any examples of this happening where an injured player and the team do a deal with less guaranteed money instead of going to arb? I know teams buy out arb and or free agent years with a longer term deal and the team gets a discount on the over all value, but the player gets a guarantee on a huge chunk of money.

              Just can not recall a deal where it went down like that, but I think it would be good here.

              • DonnieBaseballHallof Fame says:

                My bad. I think you answered this later in the post by saying:

                “I think if they don’t non-tender him, they have to offer him at least 80 % of his previous year’s salary. If they do non-tender him, they can pay him less but risk losing him to another team via free agency.”

    • but the system is set up in a certain way, and in this case, it doesn’t leave the yankees with much of a choice.

      I think the system leaves the Yanks with one very attractive choice. They can sit down with Wang’s agent and lay this out for them: “We’re going to non-tender you but then offer you a $2 million Major League contract with incentives that make it worth up to $6 million.”

      If Wang is serious about wanting to stay in the Bronx, he would sign that deal.

      • steve (different one) says:

        yes, you are 100% correct.

        to clarify: i don’t think the Yankees really have a choice in whether to tender him a contract or not.

        • I’m still a bit confused. What do you mean? You think they just shouldn’t tender him a contract?

          • steve (different one) says:

            now i’m confused.

            i am using “not tender” as a synonym for “not offering arbitation”. is that wrong?

            • Yes. Tendering someone a contract and offering arbitration are different steps in the same process.

              1. Tender a contract – This keeps the player until team control and triggers the potential for arbitration

              2. Negotiation – Prior to arbitration, the two sides can negotiate a deal and avoid arbitration.

              3. Arbitration

              Basically, tendering Wang would lock in a contract of at least $4 million (80% of last year’s deal), and if the two parties go to arbitration, the arbitrator would have to pick one side and not split the difference. That’s why salary slashes in arbitration never happen.

              The other option is to non-tender and renegotiate a contract. If a player is non-tendered, he becomes a free agent.

              • steve (different one) says:

                gotcha, thanks.

                but in the situation you outline above you said:

                We’re going to non-tender you but then offer you a $2 million Major League contract with incentives that make it worth up to $6 million.”

                so, would they non-tender him or not? if so, i don’t see a problem with my original sentiment: the arbitration process makes non-tendering inevitable, even if they will try to sign him later.

                i’m honestly not trying to argue, i’m just confused.

                are you saying they would tender him, then work out the deal you said above prior to the arbitration date? and instead of him taking $4M guaranteed, he’d probably opt for the $2M base, $6m with incentives deal? if so, that makes sense, and i withdraw my objections.

                • I think if they don’t non-tender him, they have to offer him at least 80 % of his previous year’s salary. If they do non-tender him, they can pay him less but risk losing him to another team via free agency.

                • Evil Empire says:

                  If you tender a contract:

                  1. The contract must be at least 80% of the player’s salary last year.

                • steve (different one) says:

                  yes, this is correct.

                  ok, the $4M figure changes my thinking a little. i was thinking that pre-FA players were guaranteed a raise during arbitration.

                  therefore, what i was really saying was “CMW’s arbitration salary of $6M makes tendering him a very unlikely and unpalatable option”.

                  at $4M, this might change the decision a little.


                • Evil Empire says:

                  Shit. Hit reply too quickly.

                  2. The contract can be accepted and everyone is happy.

                  3. The contract can be negotiated and everyone is happy.

                  4. The parties cannot come to a conclusion by a set date and go into arbitration where they each argue their points in front of a committee. Someone wins and someone loses.

                  If you non tender a player:

                  1. The player hits free agency.
                  2. The original team retains no rights to that player
                  3. Any team can offer him a contract.
                  4. The player can accept any contract.

            • I think the proper way to say it would be “not offer arbitration,” re arbitration, or “not tender a contract,” re whether they should try to sign him outside of the arbitration process. Does that clear it up?

  3. Ellis says:

    Hmm, any other examples of sinkerballers we can think of that “lose their touch”? I’d be interested to see a track record sinkerballers getting injured, losing their touch, and having their stats/careers fall off a cliff.

  4. Opus says:

    I hope he’ll be back, but that’s got a lot to due with being sentimental.

  5. The Yankees’ 40-man roster machinations make me think Wang’s days in the Bronx are in the past. I’m not an expert on all the different roster rules, but as I understand it, the Yanks would have to risk losing anyone currently on the 40-man who they then remove from the 40-man to make room for another player (and I don’t think they just added guys to the 40-man just to risk losing them shortly thereafter). It looks like they currently have 39 guys on the 40-man, with Edwar Ramirez, Juan Miranda and CMW the likely candidates to be taken off the 40-man this offseason. They currently have a hole at LF, DH, and SP. Figure they bring back Pettitte and at least one of Damon/Matsui, and then probably another bat, and you’ve got 1 40-man spot left. I’m kind of doubtful that the Yanks will use that spot on Wang. Am I completely missing anything here?

    • steve (different one) says:

      is Mitre on the 40 man?

      you’re also not allowing for the possibility of a trade.

      • Oh, of course things could change drastically in a very short amount of time, all it takes is one trade to shake up the 40-man. Today, though, pending any other transactions, their 40-man doesn’t look very flexible.

        I believe Mitre is on the 40-man, but I also assume they’ll bring him back for 2010 so his spot isn’t in play. Am I forgetting something about Mitre?

        • steve (different one) says:

          no, i was just adding Mitre to your list of potential DFA candidates. if they need the spot, i don’t think they’d hesitate to drop him.

          • Yeah… Whatever, without even getting into the rest of these ideas, your initial point was right… This could all change in a matter of moments if the Yanks make a trade, so who knows what the 40-man machinations really mean or what effect they’ll have.

            • Evil Empire says:

              I can’t help but reflect on where us wanna-be GMs were last year, where we were on pins and needles waiting for CC Sabathia to either turn us into a contender or force us to talk to Derek Lowe (ewwwwwww).

              Now we’re talking about which random guy we might need to DFA to make room for other ancillary pieces. Life is good in Yankeeland.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:


  6. X says:

    doesnt the same situation arise here with Matsui, that the Yankees will lose tons of presence and money from sponsorships in Taiwan. That $6 million could pay itself just like Matsui..

    • steve (different one) says:

      Matsui does not net the yankees $6M/year. maybe half of that. and most of that comes from the signage in the ballpark from Japanese companies. i don’t know if Wang brings in any extra $$ from Taiwan. the presense is important, but nothing brings in extra money like going deep into the playoffs. so, they have to make the decisions primarily based on production.

      • As we reported the other day, the Yanks allegedly earn $15 million a year through their association with Matsui. That’s based on Japanese advertising figures and merchandise sales.

        • steve (different one) says:

          i apologize for missing that article originally.

          but i have to ask about that merchandise number: all MLB merchandise, outside of the merchandise sold inside of Yankee stadium, is split by all 30 teams, is it not?

          as is all overseas TV revenue, no?

        • I just ran google translator and currency converter on the figures from that article… As far as I can tell, that article is claiming the Yanks stand to lose 15 billion yen in Japanese revenue if they part ways with Matsui. I have no idea if that’s per-year, or what the timeframe is. That’s more than $168M. Either the translation/converter/my reading is way off, or that article isn’t the best source of information.

          Do you have a better translation of that article (or am I missing something)?

          Beyond the fact that the article itself might not be accurate, we have no idea if they took into account the difference between the Japanese Matsui-related revenue and revenue sans Matsui. The money Matsui brings in doesn’t just disappear if he goes away, they likely replace at least some of that money with other sources of advertising revenue. I’m pretty sure Cashman even makes this point in the article, but again, it’s a pretty rough translation: “Even if Japan lost ads in the stadium, get other companies. There is no impact on negotiations.”

          • One of the NPB guys helped contextualize it. See this. They actually speak and read Japanese. I’ll take their word for it over the Google Translate version.

            • Ok… I ran another translator that put the figure at 1.5B yen, which is about $17M.

              Again, though, we’re not sure if they took into account replacement revenue, or really if their figures are even accurate. I just question it because I’ve never heard a figure close to that high before, I’ve always heard it was closer to a few million per year.

              • steve (different one) says:

                it’s possible that Matsui merchandise sales (or even just yankee merchandise) sales in Japan bring that number to ~$15M, but that the author of the article was unaware that those dollars are shared 30 ways.

                to me, that is the most logical explanation: Matsui is “worth” $15-17M/year, but to the Yankees it’s only a few million.

                • Yeah, there’s gotta be some explanation, and that sounds reasonable. If Matsui is worth $15M to the Yankees there’s no way they wouldn’t re-sign him this offseason, so I have a hard time believing that figure is actually in play in the context in which it’s been presented.

                • Evil Empire says:

                  This all makes sense. So really, besides any stadium-only revenue that Matsui drives in (which is substantial but also replaceable), the Yankees will make the same cut as everybody else does for the money he generates for MLB via merchandising and whatnot, unless the Yankees actually have investments in other entities profiting off of him, which I doubt.

                • Ben – Thoughts on this $15M figure?

      • Evil Empire says:

        Ironically enough, the only foreseeable player they’re going to REALLY have to overpay on due prestige is Derek Jeter. The next Mo contract might get very interesting too.

  7. Randy A. says:

    Can someone please find a picture file of the advertisement behind Wang in that picture that says “Prepare for Combat”. That’s just hilarious.

  8. Free Mike Vick says:

    poor wang…it sounds more and more like his yankee career is over. and thats a real shame.

    When he was one his game…he was a fun pitcher to watch.

  9. Josh says:

    “the NL makes good pitchers better.” You’re right, generally. But how’s the NL working out for Barry Zito? What happened to that guy??

  10. themgmt says:

    Yanks weren’t fooled by his 54 Wins and 3.79 ERA? Can’t be serious.

    • There was a little bit of hyperbole there, but just a little bit. The wins are a product of a very good offense. Wang has always enjoyed immense run support. Furthermore, his career xFIP over that time was a good 0.50 runs above his regular ERA, and as we’ve seen, he’s lost the ability to get outs with that sinker. The Yankees weren’t sold on him based on his numbers alone and for good reason.

  11. [...] this point, the Yankees are moving forward without Wang in their plans. He says that a Bronx return remains his first choice, and as a non-tendered free agent, he could come back to the Yanks on a low base salary with some [...]

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