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.

Tampa Bay Rays trade Alex Colome, Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners

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The Tampa Bay Rays were reported this week to be “open for business” as far as trades go. Normally that means nothing happens until late June or something. The Rays are getting right down to it, though, as they’ve just traded closer Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span to the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners, who have played some outstanding ball lately thanks to some outstanding starting pitching, and are looking to bolster other areas as they make a push in the AL West, will likely slot Colome into a setup role in front of closer Edwin Diaz. Span will take over center field, allowing Dee Gordon to, eventually anyway, once he recovers from a fractured toe, cover for the suspended Robinson Cano at second base. If the M’s make the playoffs he’d likely do so in the postseason too, given that Cano will be ineligible for any October play due to his suspension.

Colome has saved 11 games for the Rays, with a 4.15 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 23/8 in 21.2 innings.Span is hitting .238/.364/.385 with four homers and six stolen bases on the season.

Two players are going back to the Rays: righties Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. Moore was the Mariners’ second round pick in 2015 and made his big league debut last season, pitching 59 innings in 2018 but back in the minors so far in 2018. Romero was a 15th rounder for Seattle in 2017 and is currently plying his trade in A-ball.

The Rays, as expected, are using the 2018 season to acquire prospects. The Mariners, who are unexpectedly strong in the early going, are trying to go for it even harder. Quite a big trade for late May.