A familiar name has found a new home, as the Royals announced this afternoon that they have signed veteran right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract. For some, this might come as news that he’s still pitching.
Best known for his run with the Yankees from 2005-2009, Wang turns 36 years old in March and hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2013 as a member of the Blue Jays. The sinkerballer had a brief stint in the independent Atlantic League last season and also posted a rough 5.88 ERA in 130 innings at the Triple-A level between the Braves and the Mariners.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Wang would receive a base salary of $1 million if he’s on the major league roster and could earn more with some performance-based incentives. At this point, it would be a surprise if Wang surfaces in the majors again, but he’ll provide some rotation depth in Triple-A at the very least.
Steve Pearce had an underwhelming follow-up to a breakout 2014 campaign, but Rich Dubroff of CSNmidatlantic.com reports that he’s hoping to land a two-year deal in free agency.
Coming off 21 homers and a .930 OPS in 2014, Pearce fell off in a big way last season by batting just .218 with a .711 OPS. This included a .623 OPS against left-handers, who he has hit well during his career. Still, he clubbed 15 homers and made starts at first base, second base, and both corner outfield spots, so he could make sense with several teams as a part-time player or right-handed bench bat. It could just be a tough sell to land a multi-year deal.
The Tigers, Indians, and Rangers are among the clubs who have been linked to Pearce this winter. Jon Heyman reported before the holidays that the Mets were also looking into him.
After it was reported last week that the Nationals were trying to add an outfielder, Bill Ladson of MLB.com hears that the club has been in touch with Gerardo Parra.
This is a scenario that could have some legs. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo knows Parra well, as he signed him to his first contract when he worked for the Diamondbacks. While advanced metrics suggest that the 28-year-old took a big step back defensively last season, he has experience at all three outfield positions and has won two Gold Glove Awards.
Adding a fourth outfielder to a group which includes Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Michael A. Taylor makes a lot of sense. At the very least, Parra could be used as part of a platoon with Taylor while giving the Nationals another left-handed bat.
Parra batted .291/.328/.452 with 14 home runs, 51 RBI, and 14 stolen bases last season between the Brewers and Orioles. He’s said to be looking for a multi-year contract.
Doug Fister is an interesting free agent case coming off a down year and ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the veteran right-hander has received both one-year and two-year offers from multiple teams. No word on who made the offers, but he’s reportedly been linked to teams like the Marlins, Phillies, and Tigers this winter.
After finishing fourth in the NL with a 2.41 ERA during his first season with the Nationals in 2014, Fister had a 4.19 ERA in 15 starts and 10 relief appearances last season. Along with showing diminished velocity, he missed some time with a forearm issue and was eventually demoted to the bullpen in August.
With a weak class of free agent starters next winter, there could be incentive for Fister to take a one-year deal with the aim of reestablishing his value on the open market.
Omar Infante was the worst hitter in baseball last season while dealing with arm problems and FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the veteran infielder underwent surgery in November to remove a bone spur from his elbow.
News of the surgery was previously unreported, but Infante has had lingering arm problems during his two seasons with the Royals. It’s believed that he changed his throwing motion to compensate for the elbow, which caused a shoulder issue. The expectation is that he’ll be good to go for the start of spring training.
Among players with at least 450 plate appearances, Infante’s .552 OPS was the lowest in the majors last season. He took on a diminished role after the Ben Zobrist trade and was left off the playoff roster after suffering an oblique injury in September. However, with Zobrist now in Chicago, Infante is expected to serve as the starting second baseman again in 2016. The 34-year-old is guaranteed $17.75 million over the next two seasons.