Signing Chien-Ming Wang would be a smart move by the Boston Red Sox.
Wang is currently pitching for Chinese Taipei and looking like the starting pitcher that won 19 games in consecutive seasons back in 2006 and 2007 with the New York Yankees. In a pair of starts, Wang has gone 12 innings without allowing a run while also striking out three and walking just one.
Wang’s first start of the World Baseball Classic was against Australia, who didn’t win a game during pool play and isn’t considered to be a location that has a lot of baseball talent. But to throw six shutout innings against Japan, the champions of the last two World Baseball Classics, is certainly impressive.
Pitching well is exactly what Wang needs to do in order to secure a contract for the 2013 Major League Baseball season. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, in the Updates on Nine section of his weekly column, said in mid-February that Wang isn’t available yet, though.
Agent Alan Nero said he has taken Wang of the market until he pitches for Taiwan in the WBC. Wang doesn’t have the nasty sinker he had as a 19-game winner with the Yankees, and injuries have taken a toll. But if he pitches well, he should have a healthy market for a team needing May inventory.
While Nero is sitting back watching his client dominate opposing hitters, the Red Sox should be on the lookout for cheap, low-risk talent that will provide depth once the season starts. Wang is that guy.
The tall right-hander hasn’t seen much action in the big leagues over the last five seasons. He’s missed a ton of time due to shoulder surgery and a strained hamstring and hip. From 2008 through last season, Wang only pitched in 48 games. Last year, pitching for the Washington Nationals, he went 2-3 in 10 games—five being starts—and wasn’t very effective at all.
Is signing Chien-Ming Wang an advisable move?
Wang is probably one of the toughest pitchers to project. He was fair in his first season in New York, great the next two and then sidelined for most of the next five. So what can we expect from Wang should he get another shot? Well, that’s rather unclear, which is why a minor league deal is likely in his future.
There’s no risk in Boston signing Wang as long as he’s willing to accept a minor league deal. And who knows, maybe he even starts the season on the 25-man roster. Worst-case scenario is that he opts out midyear after sitting in the minors for a couple of months.
The Red Sox need pitching depth. Jon Lester is coming off a rough year, Clay Buchholz already tweaked a hamstring, Felix Doubront came into camp out of shape and then had a sore shoulder, and John Lackey missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Ryan Dempster seems solid so far, but there’s no guarantee he stays healthy either.
Boston might not even have the spot starter that it relied on at times last year, Franklin Morales. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe writes in his footnotes that Morales could start the season on the disabled list with pain in his lower back. Alfredo Aceves is an option, but not a very good one.
And that brings us back to Wang, who seems like a no-brainer at this point. The Yankees are going to keep their eyes on him while he pitches in the World Baseball Classic, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and Boston can’t afford to lose out on a pitcher who could have a bounce-back season, especially to the injury-plagued Bronx Bombers.
Signing Wang after his run with Chinese Taipei is over would be a brilliant move by the Red Sox. If it doesn’t work out, there’s no skin off Cherington’s back, and if he pitches well, the Red Sox's GM looks like a genius.