Report: Mariners expected to sign LHP Wei-Yin Chen
Shortly after the Mariners announced they’d signed veteran reliever Yoshihisa Hirano to a one-year contract, it was reported that Seattle added to their pitching depth again, this time with left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network was first with the report.
Wei-Yin Chen has deal with Mariners
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 30, 2020
The deal for Chen is believed to a minor-league contract, which would allow Seattle to add him without needing to create a spot on its 40-man roster, which is currently full.
Chen, 34, has been in the big leagues since 2012, starting his career with the Baltimore Orioles as a starting pitcher. He signed with the Miami Marlins in free agency ahead of the 2016 season after going 46-32 with Baltimore with a 3.72 ERA.
During his four seasons with the Marlins, Chen struggled to stay healthy, starting just 57 games from 2016 to 2018. In 2019, Chen appeared in 45 games, all out of the bullpen, and had a 6.59 ERA. Chen’s ERA in his four seasons with the Marlins was 5.10.
The Mariners will likely have Chen compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield and Kendall Graveman are all slated to start the season in the rotation, general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters at the Mariners’ pre-spring training press conference last week. While the organization has young pitchers such as Justin Dunn and Logan Gilbert who could compete for that fifth spot at spring training, Dipoto said he was still looking to add a veteran arm.
“We would like to sign at least one more major league free agent to buoy that group so to speak,” Dipoto said. “But again, we want it to be the right person and the right fit for us.”
Chen’s name was circulating as a potential add for the Mariners on Thursday, as Joe Doyle, who contributes to Lookout Landing and Baseball America among other outlets, pointed out that Chen posted a picture of himself on Facebook drinking out of a cup that appeared to have Seattle’s Space Needle on it, with a caption (translated by Facebook) saying “the next stop I have long awaited is coming soon.”
Free Agent SP Wei-Yin Chen posts on Facebook he's about to sign somewhere. Appears to be holding a mug with Space Needle on it. Looks like he could be signing with the #Mariners shortly.
— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) January 30, 2020