With the New York Yankees rotation having surprising depth, and pitchers in the minors with more potential, Chien-Ming Wang opted out of his minor league deal and is expected to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees have a strong starting rotation, including CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and David Phelps. They also have Ivan Nova and Vidal Nuno ready and waiting in Triple-A, who both have Major League experience. Another reason for Wang’s decision to opt out could be because Michael Pineda’s rehab from shoulder surgery has gone well, besides the speed bump of cracking a fingernail; he has reportedly hit 95 mph on the radar gun, and the shoulder has held up fine.
Wang, a 6’4’’ right-handed pitcher who had previous success with the Yankees, hasn’t ever recovered from a right foot injury, which he suffered rounding third base during an interleague game against the Houston Astros on June 15, 2008. The Taiwanese native had an extremely good sinker that could reach the mid 90s and had a 55-26 record with a 4.16 ERA in his five years with the Yankees. He was actually considered their staff ace, winning 19 games in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons, coming into the 2008 season in which his career-jeopardizing injury occurred. In 2009, he only pitched in 12 games, going 1-6 with an abysmal 9.64 ERA and was out of the big leagues the next year. He also pitched for the Washington Nationals in 2011 and 2012 for 21 games, amassing a 4.94 ERA with a 6-6 record.
A Wang comeback would have been a great story and a fan favorite for sure. The injury occurred at an extremely disappointing time as he was entering the prime of his career. Even more inconsolable is it came on a base-running play; American League pitchers do not have to hit–or have to run the bases. There is optimism to this story though, Wang is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox. Hopefully, his previous success can be duplicated, even though it is not with the Yanks.