It’s fun to look at the list of non-tenders and try and figure out who could help the Red Sox. It was this market, after all, that produced David Ortiz back in 2003.
But Ortiz is the anomaly. While there are some good names on the list, you quickly figure out that Garrett Atkins is a product of Coors Field, Matt Capps gave up hits in bunches and Jack Cust is an all-or-nothing slugger.
But there is a starting pitcher on the list who finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2006 and was 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA over the first 95 games of his career. This pitcher has experience in the AL East, made four starts in the postseason and is only 29.
We’re talking about Chien-Ming Wang, who was cut loose by the Yankees yesterday.
Wang was one of the best starters in the American League until June 15, 2008 when he tore a tendon and ligament in his right foot while running the bases in Houston. He missed the rest of that season and was just awful when he returned in 2009, going 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA. He suffered a shoulder injury on July 4 that required surgery and hasn’t pitched since.
Full disclosure: Sam Borden, Mark Feinsand and I wrote a biography about Wang that was published in Taiwan a few years ago. Because of that, I got to know him fairly well and have followed his career closely.
Based on my conversations with Wang, I believe the foot injury led to the shoulder injury. When Wang reported to spring training last season, the Yankees would not allow him to run as part of his conditioning. The strength in his legs, which helped him throw a 95-miles-per-hour sinker, vanished and the shoulder injury was the result of trying to compensate.
Now that the shoulder is repaired, Wang is hopeful of returning to the majors by late May or early June. Shoulder injuries are tricky and this is the second time Wang has needed surgery. But if he can come back to even 80 percent of what he once was, he would be a helpful piece.
Then there this: Wang is not leaving the Yankees on particularly good terms and would be motivated to prove them wrong.
Wang was 19-7, 3.70 in 2007. But the Yankees took him to an arbitration hearing the following February, refusing to split the difference over a mere $600,000. When the club won the hearing, team president Randy Levine put out a press release boasting about it.
Wang resented that at the time and still does. Wang reportedly turned down a split contract from the Yankees and according to Fox Sports, there are already six teams showing interest in him, including the Cardinals.
The Red Sox would be smart to take a look. Wang would love to stay in the Northeast, there’s a Taiwanese community in the area and he would welcome the chance to pitch against the Yankees.
As the Red Sox go looking for rotation depth, Wang is somebody who could be ready when they need him.