Another name to consider: Chen Wei-yin
The Orioles are expected to soon sign South Korean submariner Chong Tae-hyon giving them one Asia-born player on their 40-man roster.
Like every big-league team, the Orioles are also closely watching to see if 25-year-old right-hander Yu Darvish will be posted by his club in Japan. The Orioles have scouted Darvish multiple times for several years, and so there is interest there.
I’m just not sure they’d pony up the sum needed to land Darvish if he is posted – the estimate is that it would take roughly $50 million to win the post and a similar figure to sign him.
While that waiting game continues, there’s another name from Japan’s league you should keep in mind: Chen Wei-yin, a 26-year-old lefty with the Chunichi Dragons.
Because he is Taiwanese and not Japanese, his length of contract with the Nippon Baseball League was negotiated in his deal. So he can declare his free agency this Dec. 1 – that’s the date that others can as well, including right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma – and it’s expected Chen will.
He won’t cost a posting fee, and one industry source has said that at least a dozen teams will kick the tires on Chen, who has a lanky 6-foot frame but can hit the low 90s with his fastball.
The Orioles have scouted him previously, including in October, and there definitely is some thought about making Chen the club’s second import from Japan’s pro league – depending on price. My sense – and that’s all it is -- is that the Orioles would be more likely to make a run at Chen than a Japanese veteran such as Iwakuma (who was posted last year but did not agree to terms with the Oakland A’s) or soft-tossing lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.
Chen was 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA in 164 2/3 innings over 25 games (24 starts) this year. He was limited some by an injury in 2011, but is considered one of the better young pitchers in Japan.
It will be interesting to see if new executive vice president Dan Duquette makes a splash in Japan/Taiwan after grabbing the Orioles first South Korean.
If so, the press box at Ed Smith Stadium next March could get mighty full.