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MLB rumors: Yankees could pursue Wei-Yin Chen in free agency

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason has only just started, but we're already hearing about who the Yankees might pursue over the next few months. The team doesn't have a lot of openings on the field, but pitching is expected to be a major focus for Brian Cashman. Jon Heyman previously said that the Yankees might be interested in Jeff Samardzija, and now he is reporting that the Yankees could go after Wei-Yin Chen, one of the more under-appreciated starting pitchers in baseball.

Of course, the Yankees currently have a full starting rotation and nowhere to put anyone new. They actually have a total of six starters at the moment, but the idea of moving some of their arms should at least be explored in order to bring in someone who might be a better, and more reliable, pitcher. Plus Chen is left-handed, so you know the Yankees are at least tossing the idea around. Ivan Nova could be non-tendered or he, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda–still arbitration eligible–could become trade pieces in order to make room for Chen in the team's rotation.

A rare international free agent out of Japan's NPB, the Orioles signed Chen in 2011 and he's been a solid, above-average pitcher who has proven to be a real workhorse over the last four years. He is known as a control pitcher who can keep the ball on the ground (though he might have some home run problems), and throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a slider, changeup, and curveball while sitting mostly at 91 mph. He had a career-year in 2015, ending the season with a 3.34 ERA, 4.16 FIP, and his best peripherals of 7.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 over nearly 200 innings. If it's one thing the 2016 Yankees will need, it's a starting pitcher with stamina because many of them didn't get much further than the fifth and sixth inning last year. The only holdup will likely be his 1.2 career HR/9 rate and 11.2% HR/FB–which don't look good for Yankee Stadium.

It's unknown as to what kind of deal he could get on the open market, but he's still only 30 years old and Baltimore will definitely extend him a qualifying offer. He's a Scott Boras client, so he's going to try to push the envelop on potential years and overall dollar value of any potential contract. Overall, though, if the Yankees were to target a new addition to the starting rotation and don't want to pay big money for David Price or Johnny Cueto, than Chen might be an alternative. The draft compensation linked to him might be a deal breaker though.