Chien-Ming Wang is just starting down the long road back from July shoulder surgery, but said yesterday that he hopes to begin playing catch in January with an eye toward returning to the mound at some point in 2010.
However, as Peter Abraham of the New York Journal News points out Wang’s return may not come with the Yankees:
Wang had a $5 million contract this season and is eligible for arbitration. There is virtually no chance the Yankees will offer him arbitration before the December deadline. That would leave Wang a free agent. “I would like to stay in New York,” he said. “But I don’t know what will happen.”
One possibility is that the Yankees could offer Wang a minor-league contract. Or another team could sign him to a major-league deal and hope that he returns to form. “That’s something we won’t even think about until November,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “Those are issues for another day.”
Shoulder surgery, a foot injury, and a 9.64 ERA leave Wang with an awful lot to come back from, but the beauty of the Yankees’ payroll is that it enables them to sign big-name free agents and gives them the flexibility to take fliers on risky players. Small-payroll teams have a difficult time risking even a couple million bucks on a pitcher coming back from a major injury, but for the Yankees that represents a drop in the bucket.
In other words, if Wang is interested in remaining in New York and the Yankees are interested in having him back there probably won’t be a better fit for him between the familiarity and monetary upside. They can non-tender him this offseason, re-sign him to an incentive-laden contract with a team option for 2011, and hope that the ground-ball machine who went 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA through his first 95 starts can reemerge with a rebuilt arm.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.