Chien-Ming Wang: Is New York Yankees Reunion Possible to Replace Phil Hughes?

Ian Casselberry@iancassMLB Lead WriterApril 26, 2012

Chien-Ming Wang looked good in Yankees pinstripes once. Could he do so again?
Chien-Ming Wang looked good in Yankees pinstripes once. Could he do so again?Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang is well on the way to recovery from a strained left hamstring. He'll begin a rehab assignment with the Washington Nationals' Single-A affiliate in Potomac on Saturday. 

Nats manager Davey Johnson told reporters on Tuesday that he expects Wang to make three or four rehab starts before rejoining the big league club.

But is it possible that Wang could find himself back in the majors with another team? Could the New York Yankees be interested in bringing their former pitcher back?

The Yankees most certainly have a need right now. Phil Hughes has a 7.88 ERA after his first four starts, giving up 18 runs and 24 hits in 16 innings. Freddy Garcia has been even worse, compiling a 9.75 ERA in his first three outings. In just 12 innings, he's allowed 14 runs and 20 hits. Andy Pettitte is trying to build his strength back up again, but was roughed up in a start for Double-A Trenton.

And then of course, there's the bombshell news that Michael Pineda, the team's shiny offseason acquisition, will be out for at least a full year with a torn labrum

What initially looked like it could be a surplus, is now lacking. The Yankees believe, as any major league team should, that you can never have enough pitching. Well, now they really might not have enough pitching.

Why would the Nationals want to get rid of Wang? They don't appear to have a need for him. Yes, you can never have enough pitching, but the Nats already have Ross Detwiler pitching extremely well as their fifth starter. In his first two appearances, Detwiler has a 2-0 record, 0.56 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 16 innings.

Just a guess here, but Johnson isn't going to take Detwiler out of his rotation and replace him with Wang. Moving Detwiler to the bullpen is a possibility, but the Nats made him a starter to begin with because they believed the pitching staff would be better. Detwiler has done nothing to change that belief. 

Ross Detwiler has been outstanding as the Nationals' fifth starting pitcher.
Ross Detwiler has been outstanding as the Nationals' fifth starting pitcher.Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Besides, the Nats also have John Lannan available in Triple-A Syracuse as another surplus starter if needed. Lannan was set to be the team's fifth starter until Detwiler won the job in spring training. 

Certainly, the Yankees would want to see how Wang performs during his rehab assignment before deciding if they might pursue him. But Brian Cashman is certainly familiar with him, having signed Wang as an amateur free agent in 2000. 

Wang is a homegrown product of the Yankees system and pitched for five seasons with the big-league club until he left as a free agent and signed with the Nationals. He's shown he can pitch successfully in the AL East, which is an important consideration for the Yankees. 

No, Wang isn't the pitcher who twice won 19 games. He really hasn't been the same pitcher since tearing a tendon in his right foot while running the bases in 2008. But the Yankees don't need him to be what he once was, either. They need a back of the rotation starter who can provide some reliable innings. 

Wang probably wouldn't cost much, likely a lower-tier prospect. He wouldn't add much to the payroll either, with the Nats paying him $4 million on a one-year contract for this season. 

Or the Yankees could wait to see if Hughes can start locating his fastball again. According to the Star-Ledger's Marc Carig, catcher Russell Martin thinks that's the main problem with Hughes right now.

So what do you think? Do Cashman and Nats GM Mike Rizzo have a deal here? 


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