Just when Marlins fans thought they had finally ridded themselves of left-hander Wei-Yin Chen news, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Thursday that the free agent has signed with the Mariners. Seattle makes a visit to Marlins Park from June 5-7 for an interleague series.
In 2016, Chen received the largest guaranteed contract for a pitcher in Marlins franchise history: five years and $80 million with a sixth-year vesting option. Injuries and his lack of a reliable putaway pitch made it a disappointing partnership for all involved. Over the course of 102 appearances (53 starts), Chen posted a 5.10 ERA, 4.54 FIP and 1.33 WHIP in 358.0 IP and spent 2019 relegated to low-leverage mop-up duty; the team never came close to a postseason berth during his tenure. Facing a 40-man roster crunch last November, the Fish released him and swallowed the final $22 million still owed to him.
Miami can a recoup a tiny percentage of their poor investment if Chen is able to earn a spot on the Mariners active roster. His new team would be paying him somewhere in the neighborhood of the MLB minimum salary in that scenario (full details haven’t been reported yet), which gets subtracted from the Marlins’ obligation to him.
In the midst of their own rebuild, the Mariners seemingly offer the 34-year-old the easiest path to return to a meaningful major league role. Another possible factor motivating him to sign with them? One of the best games that Chen pitched in a Marlins uniform was Apr. 18, 2017 at then-named Safeco Field (now T-Mobile Park).
Good luck to Wei-Yin Chen as he begins this new chapter!