The Baltimore Orioles and free agent lefty Wei-Yin Chen agreed to a three-year contract on Monday, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The deal reportedly guarantees Chen slightly less than $12 million over the three years, although he still needs to pass a physical before the deal is actually finalized.
Chen, a native of Taiwan, had free agency negotiated into his previous contract with the Chunichi Dragons, allowing him to freely select his new team. On Keith Law's list of the top-50 free agents coming into the offseason, Chen ranked No. 19. From Law:
[Chen] offers more upside than the typical NPB refugee, both due to age and the chance for the slider to become a consistently plus pitch. He had been sitting low 90s and touching 95 in past years but was more 88-92 early in 2011, and his slider didn't have its usual bite. By the end of the year, he was back up to 92-94 and the slider was sharper.
Last year in Japan, Chen posted a 2.68 ERA over 164 innings while doing an exceptional job of limiting walks and home runs. The consistency of his stuff was an issue, but this is admittedly an intriguing signing by new Orioles GM Dan Duquette.