Baltimore Orioles also need to pay attention to Wei-Yin Chen


We’ve spent a lot of time already talking about which pending free agents the Baltimore Orioles need to keep; but what about Wei-Yin Chen? Arguably the Orioles’ best starter in 2015 is also a pending free agent this winter. And the scary thing is that the market may well be big on him.

Similar to Davis and Wieters, he’s also represented by Scott Boras. And we know what that means. This really illustrates why the O’s are in such a precarious position in a sense. Justifiably so, everyone in and outside of Baltimore is focused on Davis (and to a lesser extent Wieters). But if the O’s break the bank on one guy, what happens to the rest of the pack?

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Granted Chen only plays once every five games, and he certainly wasn’t the league’s top home run hitter. But he was a fairly bright spot in a starting rotation that seemingly took a step backwards after last year. So can the O’s really afford to lose him?

If my name was Richard Dawson and I was hosting Family Feud, I’d say survey says…NO! Yeah I know that was pretty corny. But my 1980’s childhood’s been on my mind a lot recently. (Foreshadowing?!) But I digress; the O’s can’t afford to lose anyone in a sense. At least not anyone that they can’t replace.

But even if Chen walks and they find a way to replace him with another quality southpaw, there’s an intangible factor to this story. Over his four years in Baltimore, he’s been a great clubhouse guy. (There was a bit of a hiccup on that front when he was sent to the minors in a “roster game move” in June, but that appeared to be more his agent speaking through his twitter feed.) Chen’s struggled to learn the English language, but in doing so also endeared himself to teammates, media, and fans alike.

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Miami Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen to remain in Japan for 2021
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  • The clubhouse is probably something that a lot of teams don’t consider when they make moves or fail to make moves. Personally I think that was the biggest factor that walked out the door when Markakis went to Atlanta. (Although I’m on record as saying that for the deal he got the Orioles were right to walk away – and I stand by that comment.) Now granted the O’s probably take that into account moreso than do most teams. But do they really want to lose another guy who outwardly seems to be very well-liked in the clubouse?

    Again, the answer is no. They don’t want to lose him, and maybe they really can’t afford to lose him. But again, this shows why the franchise is in such a precarious place. I can’t blame them for not extending any of these players before now, because we all know that their agent just won’t allow it. So as a result, they now find themselves in a situation where they might have to pick and choose. 

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    The cynics out there will ask why do they have to pick and choose? Why can’t they just bite the bullet and sign them all? Quite frankly that might be a fair question. There’s a slight chance that they might be able to cook the books a bit and find a way to sign more than one of these free agents. But that aside I suspect that there are several teams who will be in on a guy like Chen, solid lefty starter that he is.

    At the end of the day neither you nor I know what the Orioles’ books say, and we don’t know what their budget is. As the son and grandson of small business owners, I can tell you that throwing money at anything that walks like some teams do isn’t the way the achieve your bottom line goals. Chen would be a smart and wise investment for this Orioles team without a question – depending on the price of course.

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