After a week of swirling rumors that Chien-Ming Wang had signed, was about to sign, or had not at all signed with the Nationals, the deal was officially announced today. Wang gets $2M guaranteed with potential for an additional $3M in incentives. At one point this off-season the Yankees gave the impression they would match any offer. I don't know if they were given the opportunity in this case, but that's likely more money than the Yankees should rightly spend on Wang. Brian Cashman said he could only offer a minor league deal with heavy incentives.
As for the Nats, I like this signing. It should be a low risk, high potential reward deal for them. Wang is still relatively young and had been a very good pitcher up until a Fathers' Day 2008 injury sent his career on a downward spiral. If he can rebound - and that's no small task given his dreadful performance last season, three shoulder injuries, and two shoulder surgeries to his credit - Wang's sinker may work well in Nationals Park, which has been somewhat pitcher friendly in its brief history. Of course, as Jay's outstanding post last week pointed out, recapturing that sinker may not be a sure thing. If Wang can't remaster his top pitch, something he was having difficulty with even prior to his 2008 injury, this may be the end of the road for him.
Wang was the Yankees first homegrown starting pitcher of any substance since Andy Pettitte debuted some ten years before him. He provided the team with two excellent seasons in 2006 and 2007, and pretty effective partial seasons in 2005 and 2008. It was always enjoyable to watch hitters feebly roll over yet another of Wang's heavy sinkers. As we've detailed here many times before, it's a real shame that a fluke injury and some questionable decision making have left him at this stage.
We wish CMW all the best in DC, and remain hopeful he can recreate his past success. And who knows, after this turn back the clock off-season, maybe we'll see Wang in pinstripes again some day. I just hope he's careful on the basepaths in the NL. In the meantime, maybe the Yankees can sign some one else with a funny last name so we could all continue to make juvenile jokes.
Winter is coming
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