Orioles sign Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to three-year deal

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Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and the Orioles have agreed to a three-year contract with a team option for 2015.

No official word yet on the money involved, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the deal is expected to be worth $11-12 million.

Chen threw 165 innings with a 2.68 ERA and 94/31 K/BB ratio for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan last season and will move right into the Orioles’ rotation at age 26.

Earlier this offseason he was said to be seeking around $20 million, but averaging just 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings in Japan perhaps scared off some potential suitors. However, according to Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette the left-hander “has exceptional command” and “works off of a 92-94 mph fastball” with “a hard, slurve-like breaking ball as an out pitch.”

Guys like Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, and Aaron Harang each signed two-year deals worth $4-5 million per season, so while Chen’s contract is a year longer he’s basically being paid like a mid-rotation starter. Baltimore also signed Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year, $8 million deal, but he’s 30 years old and his upside is viewed as lesser than Chen’s.

Texas Rangers fire manager Jeff Banister

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The Texas Rangers just announced that they have fired Jeff Banister as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season.

Banister was in the last year of his contract with the club, but there was an option for 2019. Rangers brass, obviously, has decided to go in a different direction following what will be the club’s worst finish in Banister’s tenure. At the moment the Rangers are 64-88 and are assured of last place in the AL West.

Banister was hired before the 2015 season and led the Rangers to first place finishes in each of his first two seasons, willing the Manager of the Year Award in 2015. The club fell to a disappointing third place and a 78-84 record last season, however and, after an offseason that neither helped the Rangers rebuild OR reload, this season the descent has continued.

Injuries and under achievement has been the order of the day for the past two years and, with the career of Adrian Beltre nearing its end and the Rangers having been passed up by the Astros as the class of the division, a full rebuild is in the club’s future. Even if that was not the case, however, recently there have been some reports about Banister having trouble communicating with his players, suggesting that, perhaps, the Rangers would move on from him even if the results on the field had been better.

Banister ends his reign as the Rangers’ skipper with a record of 325-313.