The Miami Marlins must decide if they are going to keep veteran pitcher Wei-Yin Chen on the 25-man roster and his huge salary or release him for younger players.
You cannot tell me Wei-Yin Chen is a better pitcher at this point than Pablo Lopez, Trevor Richards or Caleb Smith. What you can tell me is the Miami Marlins may be handcuffed by a contract that Chen was given in 2016 that makes for an interesting decision, forthcoming.
Does the veteran’s salary prohibit the Marlins from releasing if this spring? Will he take a spot in the team’s rotation that should go to a more deserving starter? Does having Chen, 33, in the rotation hurt Miami’s chances of showing improvement from the 63-98 season in 2018?
The last three questions deserve a resounding “YES” to their answers as Chen once again got lit up on the mound in the team’s 9-8 win over the Washington Nationals on Monday. This will be one of the toughest decisions the Marlins front office will have to make before the start of the regular season.
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In my mind, it isn’t a question of if Chen should be released, but when will the team make the move to improve its starting five.
"“Chen has surrendered nine runs in 3 1/3 innings, on 10 hits, two walks, and an HBP. Opposing batters have lit him up for a .526 average,” writes my colleague, Kevin Kraczkowski of Marlin Maniac.“The Miami Marlins managerial staff has a tough decision to make in the coming weeks as to Chen’s future disposition. Do you pay a guy $20 million for less-than-replacement level play – or do you cut your losses?”"
The Marlins are in a precarious position here. They have one of the smallest payrolls in Major League Baseball by design, but four players comprise the bulk of salaries this season. Chen tops them all at the $20 million mark. It’s a hard pill to swallow but sometimes you must do what is best for business.
Chen will be paid $22 million in 2020 and then $16 million in 2021 before he can test free agency. At this rate, and given the fact he has been as inconsistent a pitcher as any on the Marlins roster, it’s hard to see any team willing to take on such a large salary.
The Marlins rotation could look a lot better with both Lopez, who has looked dominant during Spring Training and Richards, who has been working on adding a cutter and curveball to his array of pitches this season.
It’s hard to see the Marlins trying something different and adding Chen to the bullpen. The move would be too risky given his penchant for unraveling on the road and taking a bit more time to warm up because of past elbow issues.
The Marlins should come to some agreement and move on from the Chen situation and focus on preparing its pitching staff for now and the future. Keeping Chen on the roster because of a contract the new ownership group did not offer is just hurting the team on the mound and in the future.