Wang on Sox Radar?
According to Chien-Ming Wang’s agent, the 29-year old right-handed free agent has heard from 15 teams thus far this off-season who have showed at least a little interest. If true, it is an impressive number, but there are still a plethora of questions and concerns for Wang’s future employer.
1. Will Wang stay healthy long enough to contribute?
It’s anyone’s guess at this point whether Wang will ‘right the ship’ so to speak in 2010. To this point, he has done nothing to prove his worth or show that he can return to his 19-win per season form. That context, however, could prove to be the right time for a team to take a risk, because Wang’s salary will certainly be relatively low due to his last few years of practically no pitching. After having foot surgery in June of 2008, Wang made 3 appearances in 2009, only to give up 23 ER’s in just 6 innings over 3 starts. His numbers are so atrocious, they would be hard to replicate even if he tried.
2. Would Wang be willing to move to the bullpen?
Given his injury issues, it may be his only option to have consistent playing time for a major market team. The bullpen, at least temporarily, may also allow Wang to contribute while building his stamina back up after having not really pitched in two years. Whoever signs Wang will have some options, but he can’t be expected to start 30+ games and have 200+ innings in 2010. As a reliever, it will also be easier to give Wang rest without having to change a starting rotation frequently, making it a smoother transition for his employer as well.
3. Are the Sox one of the 15 teams interested in signing Wang?
My gut feeling is yes. Odds are pretty good considering 50% of all MLB teams supposedly inquired. Given the Sox’s focus on pitching this off-season, and their high-level of activity, Theo and the gang probably dipped their toe into the Wang race just to see how warm the waters were. At the right price, Wang could be an intriguing gamble in the bullpen, assuming that is something of interest to him. Even if he can’t return to being a dominate starter like ’06 and ’07, if he can regain his nasty sinker, he could be a perfect 7th or 8th inning set-up man.