After 13 seasons and 10 teams, left-hander Bruce Chen has himself a multiyear contract. The Royals re-signed him to a two-year, $9 million deal on Wednesday, SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports.
There’s never been a journeyman quite like Chen. 34 others have also played for 10 different franchises, but Chen pulled it off in just 11 seasons before finding a home in Kansas City. This next year will be his fourth with the Royals, and after a rocky start with the team in 2009, he’s gone 24-15 with a 3.96 ERA the last two years.
Chen broke in with the Braves very young, so he’s still just 34 now. Doomed by a proclivity for giving him homers in his early years, he’s benefited tremendously from the game’s falling power numbers. It also helps that he’s gotten to play in an underrated pitcher’s park in Kansas City recently.
There is a big cause for concern here, though. Chen fanned just 5.6 batters per nine innings last season, down from 6.3 in 2010. His career rate is 6.8. Chen’s a different pitcher now than he used to be, one who doesn’t need to get so many outs via the K. Still, it’s hardly a good sign that he took such a big dip. His walk rate is falling as well, which is a big reason the loss of strikeouts didn’t hurt him last season. It’s just that a tumbling strikeout rate is one of the worst indicators when it comes to predicting future success.
The Royals are simply hoping for more of the same from Chen. It’s doubtful that he’ll ever start a postseason game for the team, but they’re banking on him serving as a solid middle-of-the-r0tation guy for a while longer.
And chalk one up for perseverence here. It’s a wonder than Chen never gave up while bouncing from team-to-team. From 2000-03, he played for multiple clubs each season. In 2006, he went 0-7 with a 6.93 ERA. In 2007, the Rangers sent him down after just five appearances and never brought him back. It was two years before he’d again see the majors. But now he’ll make nearly as much these next two seasons as he has the rest of his career combined.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.