Today was the second time in two months that former rotation stalwart Chien-Ming Wang could opt out of his minor-league contract with the Yankees to join another club. Despite rumors on the Twitterverse of offers for Wang (pause), Scranton beat writer Donnie Collins confirmed that he will be staying with the club for at least another month:
I can confirm report by @tradedeadliner that Chien-Ming Wang isn't opting out of his Yankees deal. Will make RailRiders start Saturday.— Donnie Collins (@RailRidersTT) May 31, 2013
Has to be frustrating for Wang. Had a ton of interest from other teams on minor league deals. But none on major league deals...— Donnie Collins (@RailRidersTT) May 31, 2013
Wang's statistics in Triple-A are quite good. He's made eight starts and pitched 51 innings to a 2.65 ERA and 3.40 FIP with pinpoint control (1.6 BB/9). He still doesn't strike anyone out, but his current K/9 of 4.1 is actually better than the 3.1 K/9 he had during his 19-win, 4.1 fWAR season in '06. Strikeouts aren't his game--it's getting hitters to roll over his sinker and ground out. His groundball rate of 55.3% is almost identical to what it was when he was last good in the bigs (2008, 55.0%). He dazzled in his most recent start, pitching seven shutout innings of two-hit ball with just two walks against Norfolk. So what's the problem?
I'm just not sure how much better Wang can pitch than he has. His stuff is his stuff at this point. Nobody seems convinced it's good enough.— Donnie Collins (@RailRidersTT) May 31, 2013
At least we know it's not just the Yankees who are unsure of how well Wang might pitch in the bigs after four years of injury and ineffectiveness. It seems unlikely that he'll make it to the Yankee rotation given his low place on the rotation depth chart. The big three of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte are locks, the team likes Phil Hughes despite his occasional yips, and David Phelps has pitched well enough to keep a spot for a while (previous start notwithstanding). Beyond those five are Ivan Nova, who likely has more potential than Wang, Vidal Nuno, who the Yankees understandably selected over Wang to sub in the rotation when they needed replacement starters in May because Nuno's numbers were better, and Adam Warren, who has pitched well out of the bullpen. Michael Pineda will undoubtedly be ahead of Wang on the chart once he's healthy as well. Brett Marshall even has the edge on him since he has a 40-man roster spot. It's nice that Wang has pitched well, but I can't say that I think he'd be a clear improvement over any of the ten pitchers above, except for Marshall and maybe even Nova if he's really broken (I don't think he is quite yet).
So Wang will remain in Scranton, as no other team wants to give him the major-league deal he seeks. It is a little surprising to me that absolutely no team in baseball wants to even give him a shot given how many crappy back-of-the-rotation starters there are in the league. Wang might only have an average ceiling, but can he really be that much worse than the likes of Alex Sanabia and Lucas Harrell? Oh well. Rotation depth is always appreciated, and Wang will continue to serve that simple role for the Yankees in June, then hope for better luck on the 30th.