The Baltimore Orioles signed Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada to a two year contract last week in hopes of strengthening baseball’s worst pitching staff. Now the team is interested in adding another Japanese League starter in left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. The Taiwanese born Chen has pitched, and pitched well, for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League since 2005. Chen broke into the Japanese major leagues in 2005 when he was just 20 years old. He missed all of the 2006 and 2007 seasons due to Tommy John surgery. Now 26, Chen is one of Japan’s best pitchers. He has just a 36-30 career record but his 2.59 ERA and 1.09 WHIP are impressive in any league. Chen’s ERA has consistently been below the league average throughout his career. In 2009 his 1.54 ERA and 0.93 WHIP both led the league.
Chen is younger than Wada, and reportedly throws harder. As such he is likely seeking to outpace the two year $8 million deal that Wada landed in Baltimore. The Orioles need all the pitching they can get. Baltimore has had trouble attracting free agent starters to Camden Yards in the past. The plan to focus on developing young pitching has landed with a thud. If Dan Duquette can sign Chen to a three year deal for around $7 million per season he’s probably worth the risk.