Chien-Ming Wang visited Dr. James Andrews today, and came back with a positive report. Via Ken Rosenthal, we learn that Wang could throw off a mound in six to eight weeks. Considering the severity of the injury, I expect that it will be closer to eight weeks, which would have Wang throwing off a mound in late February, early March. I’m not sure how long his rehab would take from there, but I don’t imagine he could pitch in even a minor league game before early April. The end of Rosenthal’s tweet got cut off, but it appears that there could be heightened interest in the sinkerballer. What benefits Wang more, though: getting into camp and under rehab with a specific team, or proving his health and then signing?
By all appearances, the Yankees remain interested in Chien-Ming Wang. After the team non-tendered him earlier this month, we learned that they offered him a split contract which would add him to the active roster once his shoulder recovers. A few weeks later, a report surfaced that the Yankees would like the chance to match any other team’s offer. While that doesn’t guarantee that the Yankees would match, it’s clear that they want every opportunity to retain Wang. Might Wang want every opportunity to remain a Yankee?
Sam Borden of the Journal News received word of a recent public appearance wherein Wang said “that there were no hard feelings on his side about being non-tendered.” Not that there should be; any sane team would have done the same. I’m willing to bet, even, that the Yankees are the only team that would have even considered tendering him a contract. But not even the sport’s richest franchise would guarantee Wang $5 million, or more, following pretty serious shoulder surgery.
Just because Wang doesn’t harbor ill will doesn’t mean that he’s willing to return. His statement might have been no more than a publicity bit, to keep satisfied his fans who want to see him continue pitching in pinstripes. After all, Wang does have a few reasons to consider pitching elsewhere, the foremost of which is playing time. The Yankees currently have six starters for five rotation spots, so even if they suffer an injury early in the season they have an in-house replacement. Wang could find himself ready by early June, but no spot in the rotation to fill.
Another, lesser team can offer Wang a guaranteed rotation spot once his shoulder recovers. He could sign with, say, the Astros, knowing that they’ll have a spot for him at any point in the season. That means more innings, which can turn into a bigger payday next winter, Wang’s final year of arbitration. Because the Astros operate with tight pursestrings, they might even non-tender Wang if he pitches well enough in 2010, making him a free agent a year early. That’s certainly a rosy scenario for Wang’s wallet. But is that all he’s after?
Clearly, baseball players have a limited earnings window. This goes especially for pitchers, and especially for pitchers who have suffered three shoulder injuries. But at what point do familiarity and an opportunity to win matter? Wang had to watch as his teammates won the World Series, but he was still right at the center of the celebration at the mound. There has to be a part of him that wants to return and get a chance to contribute to another championship. If that resides high on his priority list, we’ll probably see him back in pinstripes. If it’s really all about the money, he might consider other destinations, even if the Yankees match a deal for 2010. The guaranteed rotation spot in another organization could boost his future earnings.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, 15 teams have shown interest in Chien-Ming Wang. That sounds about right. Any team with contention hopes should have at least called to see what he and his agent, Alan Nero, seek for the 2010 season. The most interesting part of the one-paragraph blurb resides in a parenthetical aside, when Cafardo mentions that the Yankees “would like to match any final offer.” I’m sure there’s a limit on the offer, but I doubt any team offers more than the split minor league/major league contract the Yankees proposed after non-tendering Wang.
As for Wang’s rehab schedule, he’s been throwing long toss since December 1, and will visit with Dr. James Andrews after the new year to “get an updated timeframe on his comeback.” Nero is still talking about an early May return for Wang.
Last week was a pretty eventful one for the Yankees, who brought back Andy Pettitte and added two players to their outfield while trimming the fat in the bullpen. The weekend was just as eventful for ex-Yanks’ ace Chien-Ming Wang, who was handed his walking papers on Saturday night. Six teams (three AL, three NL) immediately expressed interest in the sinkerballer, though the Yanks tried to woo him back with a split contract that guaranteed he’d be in the big leagues once his surgically repaired shoulder was good to go.
Despite all the interest in the former Cy Young runner up, Buster Olney is reporting that Wang might not sign for a few months according to his agent, Alan Nero. His client’s plans for the immediate future including getting checked out by Dr. James Andrews in early January, heading to Taiwan for some R&R, then returning to Arizona to keep working out. Doesn’t sound like the agenda of someone desperate to find a job.
Waiting until early in the season – or even midseason – to sign a contract is one of the newest trends hitting baseball these days. We’ve seen Roger Clemens successfully pull it off numerous times, and Pedro Martinez did the same thing with the Phillies this season. There’s also another guy that tried to pull this off in 2009, though things didn’t go so well for him: Ben Sheets.
Sheets started the offseason as one of the most sought after free agent pitchers, then had a little bit of a setback that was going to push his 2009 debut back, and before you knew it he was having elbow surgery that would sideline him the entire season. Shoulders are much trickier than elbows (remember, there wasn’t any ligament damage in Sheets’ elbow), but if Wang is confident in his health and his ability to recover, then he should (in the words of his agent) “be prudent” and explore what’s out there for him.
Teams will surely be looking for rotation help in March and April and May, and Wang will likely be the best available pitcher on the free market. And, of course, he won’t be ready until basically mid-season anyway, so it makes sense for him to remain patient and see what’s out there. Nero said Wang could eventually re-sign with the Yanks, and if a scenario plays out in which Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlain is struggling, or one of the front three is on the shelf, or basically anything that would open a gaping hole in the rotation, then suddenly that split contract could turn into a Major League guaranteed deal worth more than it might be right now.
Hopefully for Wang, who I’m certain has made millions in endorsements, it’s the right decision.
Photo Credit: Reuters
If Chien-Ming Wang recovers from the shoulder injury he suffered last July, it will probably be with with another team. According to Bill Madden of the Daily News, the Yankees offered Wang a split contract which would guarantee him a spot on the active roster once his shoulder was ready. Wang’s agent, Alan Nero, rejected the offer, informing the Yankees that “Wang would be moving on.” This is not an unexpected development.
A free agent for the first time in his career, Wang surely wants to explore all of his options. Teams other than the Yankees will be interested, and perhaps one of them will offer the guaranteed money upon which Nero insists. There’s no harm in looking, and if no other offers top the Yankees’, chances are the two parties can work out a deal in the future.
The question of Wang’s potential return might hinge on the perceived rift between him and the Yankees. How much of this is true we don’t know, but there have been a few incidents, starting with the Yankees taking him to arbitration in 2008 over $600,000. A source tells Mark Feinsand that Wang is “still bothered” about the incident. Then there is the issue of Wang’s rehab from the lisfranc injury he suffered in 2008.
One story that sticks out in my mind is when Nero approached the Yankees about a possible contract extension. The Yankees said, “Make us an offer,” and talks ended there. That was before the arbitration incident.
For now, it appears Wang has his sights set elsewhere. There are reportedly six teams interested in him. The main questions here, I think, are of how Wang really feels about how the Yankees treated him, and of whether the Yankees are willing to top an offer from another team. The split minor/major league contract was already a good offer. We’ll see if Wang can get a similar one elsewhere.
Glove slap to iYankees for the Madden link.
Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees have decided to not tender a contract to Chien-Ming Wang. Sergio Mitre, Melky Cabrera, and Chad Gaudin were all offered deals. “There’s no doubt that we had to make a tough decision,” said GM Brian Cashman. “We are still hopeful that our relationship can continue, but those decisions are yet to be made.” Hopefully something can be worked to out to bring the sinkerballer back for depth, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Good luck, Wanger.
Update: Since this is probably your last chance, make sure you bring your best CMW double entendres in the comments.
The deadline for teams to offer contracts to players under their control is midnight tonight, and Ken Davidoff reports that the Yankees will not tender Chien-Ming Wang a contract. Davidoff initially reported this development six days ago via Twitter and confirms it tonight.
Says the brief subscribers’ only article on Newsday’s website:
The Yankees’ top priority this offseason remains improving their starting rotation. On Saturday, however, they’ll bid farewell to the pitcher who has won the most games since Brian Cashman became a bona fide general manager. Chien-Ming Wang, still rehabilitating after right shoulder surgery, will not be tendered a contract by the Yankees Saturday. He might very well top the list of non-tenders throughout the industry…
Wang’s agent, Alan Nero, has said the righthander could be ready by Opening Day, but Cashman said this past week that he thinks Wang will be back sometime between April and June. The Yankees simply don’t think Wang will be able to contribute in any significant fashion in 2010.”
Wang, who turns 30 in March, was signed by the Yanks as an international free agent in 2000. He made his Major League debut in 2005 and turned in three very strong seasons for the Yanks at a time when the team couldn’t find pitching. In mid-2008, though, disaster struck when Wang suffered a freak Lisfranc injury while running the bases during an Interleague Play game in Houston.
After sitting out the second half of 2008 while rehabbing his foot, the sinker ball specialist attempted a comeback in 2009. He suffered through a bout of horrendous ineffectiveness early on. In his first three appearances of the year, he lasted just 6 innings and allowed 23 earned runs on 23 hits and six walks. After spending a month on the disabled list to build up his lower body strength, he came back in late May and was better. Over his final nine games for the Yanks, he went 1-3 with a 5.50 ERA in 36 innings. Encouraging for Wang were the 27 strike outs, but he left his July 4th start with shoulder pains. A few weeks later, after three different opinions, he opted for labrum surgery, the second major arm procedure of his career.
At 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 incentives. The Dodgers, however, will be very keen to bid for his services.
Still, even before his injury, the Yanks were wary of Wang’s long-term ability to get outs. They want to arbitration with him after the 2007 season over a matter of $600,000 and then saw his sinker ball lose its effectiveness during the first half of 2008. Had the Yanks tendered Wang, they would have owed him at least $4 million in 2010, and that was a financial risk the team was simply unwilling to take.
Wang was a shining star on the Yanks when the team had no pitching. He was always calm and collected on the hill, and he was a true superstar in his native Taiwan. If this is the end of the Yanks’ relationship with Wang, I’ll tip my hat to Number 40 and wish him well wherever he lands. A promising career cut short by a freak accident is a sad even to witness indeed.
After the jump, a photo from the Yanks’ rookie hazing efforts in 2005. Hard to believe how far Wang, grinning happily in that photo, and the Yanks have come since then. [Read more…]