The Yankees don’t have many immediate roster decisions to make as they head into the off-season. They have just one team option to consider, Sergio Mitre’s for $1.25 million, and they will likely exercise it. Only a few players are arbitration eligible, and of them most are either easy or painless calls. The case of Chien-Ming Wang, though, is a tough one. After surgery in July to repair a shoulder capsule, Wang could start the 2010 season in July, if he starts it at all. Will the Yankees tender him a contract under those circumstances?
The Yankees will have more information at hand after Monday, when Wang visits Dr. James Andrews to check up on his right shoulder. If everything looks fine, Wang could be throwing minor league games by April or May. What I wonder is whether that timeframe is worth a potential $5.5, $6 million gamble. That’s what the Yankees would be doing by offering him arbitration. The alternative is to not tender him a contract, meaning he’d be a free agent. There are no guarantees then.
I’ve heard some people say that the Yankees have mistreated Chien-Ming, but I don’t really see it. Maybe it’s because the observation is from afar, but it seems like they did the reasonable thing. Wang had an injury history, missing all of 2001 and part of 2005 with shoulder issues. Instead of signing him to a long-term deal, they went year to year. Unfortunately for Wang, that decision worked out for the Yankees. Now they get to make a decision on how he fits into their future.
There’s no downplaying Wang’s contributions to the Yankees from 2005 through the start of 2008. He stood out during the years when the team’s pitching was thin. It would be rough to see him go, especially because we know what he can contribute. In an off-season that many think will be light for the Yankees, the decision on Wang could stand out.