Yankees and Others Interested in Chien-Ming Wang

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Wang lead the league twice (06-07) in wins with 19, and came second in Cy Young Award voting in 2006. Photo credit: NJ.com

Currently, the Yankees boast some of Major League Baseball’s older players; stars from the mid-2000s like Kevin Youkilis and Ichiro Suzuki, and they may be interested in another household name who was their de-facto “ace” prior to the end of the original Yankee Stadium.

According to the Trentonian’s Josh Norris, RHP Chien-Ming Wang, now 32, is in Tampa with the Yankees throwing a few bullpen sessions.  Normally, the bullpen sessions are precedent to a signing.  In 2006, Wang posted a ground ball percentage of 62.8%, and with his famous sinker sitting in the 88-92 mph range, certainly a minor league signing would work out for both parties.

Though left off the postseason roster, Colon's 164.1 IP for the Yankees were a bargain.  Photo Credit: http://yankeesmagazine.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/bartolo-colon-is-the-real-deal/

Though left off the postseason roster, Colon’s 164.1 IP for the Yankees were a bargain. Photo Credit: http://yankeesmagazine.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/bartolo-colon-is-the-real-deal/

Following a foot injury running the bases in Houston in 2008, Wang’s production dropped off.  In 2009, the Taiwanese pitcher lasted a mere 42 innings, posting a 9.64 ERA (5.38 FIP).  His HR/9 skyrocketed, going from 0.4 from 2006-2008 to 1.5 in 2009.  At one point in the 2009 season, Wang posted a 34.50 ERA.  Wang would also deal with hip and shoulder capsule injuries, while signing a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals.  In 16 starts in two seasons with Washington, Wang posted a 4.94 ERA with his HR/9 still nowhere close to his successful New York years at 1.2.  His ground ball percentage sat at 53.2 percent.  In 5 starts in 2012, he walked as many as he struck out (15).

For the Yankees, however, signing Wang to a minor league deal would make plenty of sense.  When you consider LHP Andy Pettitte, 41, hasn’t pitched in more than 21 starts since 2010; RHP Hiroki Kuroda, 38, is coming off a career-high 236.2 IP and Phil Hughes is just getting over back issues again, the oldest team in the majors could use the pitching depth.  While RHP Michael Pineda is recovering from shoulder surgery, he has just begun throwing sliders, and will probably not see any game action until late-May/early-June.  Depending on Hughes’ health, the Yankees will have right-handers David Phelps and Ivan Nova break the 2013 rotation; Nova had an ERA over 7 in the second half last year while Phelps, despite the strong spring, has 99.2 IP major league innings to his name.  We’ve seen the Yankees turn minor league deals into instant success before; in 2011, RHP Bartolo Colon posted an ERA of exactly 4.00 in 164.1 IP for the Yankees after signing a $900,000 minor league deal.

Other teams interested in Wang, who threw twelve shutout  innings in the World Baseball Classic for Chinese Taipei, could be the Texas Rangers after they lost Martin Perez to a forearm injury.  The Boston Red Sox are also looking for starting pitching depth considering their 5.19 ERA last year was the worst in franchise history.

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