Padres Free Agent Profile: Wei-Yin Chen

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Right now the Padres are only certain of three starting pitchers for 2016: James Shields, Tyson Ross, and Andrew Cashner. On the other hand, all three have been rumored to be on the trading block. Shields because of his large contract, Ross and Cashner because of their inexpensive contracts and ability to likely bring more prospects in a trade. So how will they fill out the rest of the rotation?

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One option that is remaining on the free agent market and well below the marquee price tags of Zack Greinke or David Price is the Orioles Wei-Yin Chen. As this article by Paul Cassella points out, Chen has some attractive qualitities that could also play even better in Petco Park over Camden Yards. He induces soft contact with opposing hitters average exit velocity is just 87.4 MPH. By comparison Clayton Kershaw led the league with 85.2 MPH exit velocity. The Padres have already improved their defense by getting Jon Jay to play center field over Wil Myers, who moves to first base with the exit of Yonder Alonso

He also does a great job of limiting his walks, a quality that plays well in every park. Over the last two seasons he has averaged just 1.8 walks/9 innings, making him one of only 10 pitchers to average less than two walks per nine innings over that time span.

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The question of course when considering free agency turns to his price tag and age. Chen is just 30 years old, which would make a 2-3 year contract attractive even for a rebuilding Padres club. MLB Trade Rumors projects a 5 year $80M contract for the left-hander which might even be in the Padres wheelhouse, and with another good year or two would still leave him as an attractive trade target.

There is still a lot of off-season left, but if the Padres don’t start locking up a few key spots they will be left with free agency left-overs and 2016 will be a long season.

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