Will the Miami Marlins part ways with one of the biggest contracts on the team’s payroll in 2020?
It’s a question the Miami Marlins must soon address once the end of the 2019 MLB season comes to an end. What will the team do with Wei-Yin Chen?
Does it make sense to carry the inconsistent reliever on the roster or will the decision be made to eat the remainder of his contract and send him packing? Chen, who has been a disappointment since signing with the Marlins as a free agent in 2016 to a five-year, $80 million deal. He has done anything but shown he was worthy of the contract.
With the Marlins looking to continue to cut its payroll and potentially bring in more dependable pitchers for the bullpen, is it possible to put the Chen saga behind them and move on? Joe Frisaro of MLB.com makes the case for the team to finally move on, as he discusses the topic in his most recent “In Box” feature.
"“First off, active rosters will expand to 26 in 2020, with no more than 13 pitchers. The Marlins carried 13 pitchers, and mostly eight relievers all through ’19. Even with the additional player, it doesn’t change the fact that the chances are increasing that Chen does not fit into the Marlins’ ’20 plans,” Frisaro writes.“The 34-year-old left-hander will be entering the final season of his five-year, $80 million contract that he signed in ’16. Chen is set to make $22 million, and there is a $16 million conditional player option for ’21, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.”"
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Chen was expected to come in an become a dependable second arm behind Jose Fernandez, even starting the 2016 Opening Day game for the team. He suffered through injuries part of his time on the roster and did not perform well on the road last season.
The decision was made during Spring Training to move him to the bullpen, where he was disastrous at first and leveled off – some during the season. Chen made 45 relief appearances and had a 6.59 ERA, logging 68 1/3 innings, but he also did not pitch many innings during the final two months of the season.
Trading him is difficult because the contract is an albatross for the Marlins or whichever team may want to acquire him. He could be part of a trade deal this offseason, where the front office tries to acquire help for the batting order. If that were to happen, how much of the remainder of his contract would Miami be on the hook for?
The Marlins have many young arms they can use in the bullpen and must look at possible additions to the rotation this offseason. It is not a given the five pitchers who ended 2019 as starters will be back on the 26-man roster, traded to other teams, or back in the minors to begin the 2020 season.
A trade would benefit the Marlins most, but that is something the team must weigh over the winter.
"“If that doesn’t happen (a trade scenario), and the Marlins feel they have enough pitching depth, they could make the decision and cut ties with Chen,” Frisaro added."