After four productive seasons in Baltimore, Wei-Yin Chen became a free agent after the 2015 season and signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Marlins in January of 2016.
The deal looked okay at the time — Chen certainly had the capability of being the No. 2 starter for a contending team, and the opt-out clause clause (which he can exercise after this season) made it an enticing deal for both the team and the 30-year-old lefty.
Now, at age 32 and more than halfway through his second season with the Marlins, Chen hasn’t lived up to that $80 million dollar deal. In fact, he’s barely made an impact at all.
The left-hander dealt with injury last season and made only 22 starts (with a 4.96 ERA), and it has gotten even worse in 2017. After pitching to a 4.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in five starts early in the season, the Marlins sent Chen to the 10-day DL in May with left arm fatigue that turned out to be a partial tear in his UCL.
The Taiwanese-born starter has been there ever since, and even with the opt-out clause, it looks like Miami will be stuck with him for the rest of his contract.
So, it looks like it’s time for the Marlins to get something out of Chen, and it seems like he feels the same way. According to the Sun-Sentinel’s Tim Healey, Chen is not giving up hope on returning to the mound this season.
Chen has reportedly thrown at least five bullpen sessions over the last two weeks, and could throw live batting practice some time next week. If everything goes well, he could start a minor league rehab assignment soon, according to Healey.
Healey writes that Chen is no longer feeling pain in his elbow, but it still could be a long road back for Miami’s 80 million dollar man.
In the mean time, with Edinson Volquez also out after Tommy John Surgery, Jarlin Garcia could see time in the starting rotation, according to Healey and manager Don Mattingly.
In his rookie season in 2017, Garcia has posted a 3.44 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 36.2 innings. Lefties are hitting only .162 off the Miami southpaw, who has walked only nine batters all season.
Despite all 47 of his appearances this year coming out of the bullpen, Garcia made 89 starts in six minor league seasons, so he is no stranger to getting the ball in the first inning.
With the Marlins currently sending guys like Vance Worley and Chris O’Grady to the mound, it would be no surprise to see Garcia get a start before season’s end.
The Marlins also made a minor league move this week, acquiring OF Eury Perez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash. Perez spent the season playing for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, where he slashed an impressive .336/.400/.433 in 50 games.
With a crowded Pirates outfield, Perez had no path back to the big leagues, a place he hasn’t been since a 47-game stint in 2015 with the Braves. The 27 year old, who owns a career .589 OPS in 156 major-league plate appearances, could be a September call-up option for the Marlins.