Baltimore Orioles lose Wei-Yin Chen

Courtesy of Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Courtesy of Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Baltimore Orioles lost free agent Wei-Yin Chen, who heads to Miami.

You knew at a certain point that one of the Baltimore Orioles’ free agents would fly the coup. Yesterday the news broke that Wei-Yin Chen had signed with Miami – making him the first free agent to leave the Birds. Chen signed a five-year deal for a reported $80 million, with a vesting option for a sixth year.

The O’s weren’t comfortable bringing Chen back for that amount of time, although initially Scott Boras was looking for a $100 million contract. While I do think that the Orioles might have considered the five year deal for $80 million, there’s another part of the deal with which I wouldn’t be comfortable if I were a team: an opt-out clause. Chen can opt out of the deal after two years if he so chooses.

That’s something that we’re seeing more and more in baseball, and I don’t really think it’s a good thing. There have been several free agent contracts this off season which have included opt out clauses already, and I would submit that it’s nothing more than teams leaving themselves open to be screwed over. Somehow I see it as akin to asking someone to marry you with the caveat that if the girl wants out after three years she can exercise that option no questions asked.

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Miami Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen to remain in Japan for 2021
Miami Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen to remain in Japan for 2021 /

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  • Courtesy of Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
    Courtesy of Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /

    So in my personal view if you’re an Orioles fan you should be glad that the Birds didn’t match that type of contract. It’s nowhere near as team friendly as I personally think a contract should be. Obviously there are some concessions that teams have to make in these negotiations, however if I were a GM that wouldn’t be one of them. There’s just no point in signing a player to a long-term deal if he’s going to have the option of leaving midway through.

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    After the announcement on Chen, Gerardo Parra quickly became the second free agent to leave the O’s. He signed with Colorado for three years, and a reported $27.5 million. Mind you that Parra came to the Birds in a trade deadline deal, so they only had half a season invested in him. I would tend to think that the O’s could have matched that deal, however they’re top-heavy in the outfield already and they appeared to not have too much interest in retaining Parra.

    It goes without saying that now the Orioles will formally have a large hole in their rotation, as Chen was a huge presence. Again, in my view while Miami’s getting a good pitcher, I’m just not a fan of these opt-out clauses. In my view they run contrary to the spirit of having a contract in the first place.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Keep your cool

    And I suspect that the Orioles feel the same way. Owner Peter Angelos is very big on people honoring their word and honoring what’s in writing. Allowing a player to slither out of his word isn’t exactly his typical modus operandi. Again however, now the O’s need to focus on replacing Chen.