Fantasy Impact: Marlins Sign Wei-Yin Chen
The Miami Marlins finally did something this offseason, signing lefty starter Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year deal worth $80 million. The contract includes a sixth-year player option that can vest based on innings pitched. The sixth season is worth $16 million, bringing the potential total contract to $96 million. With opt-out clauses being all the rage this offseason, Chen’s agent Scott Boras made sure to work one into this deal as well, and Chen can opt out of the contract after the second season.
The Chen signing is good for the Marlins, giving them another legitimate starter in the rotation besides ace, Jose Fernandez. But what does it mean in the fantasy baseball world? Chen has always been a decent fantasy piece since coming up in 2012 with the Baltimore Orioles. He has posted low-4 and mid-3 ERAs every year of his career, with his best season coming in 2015. Last year, he posted 11 wins and a 3.34 ERA. His great control, shown by a career 2.19 BB/9, helps keep his WHIP down. His WHIP is just 1.25 for his career and has never gone higher than 1.32 in a season. He will also contribute a few strikeouts now and then. While not eye-popping, his 6.97 K/9 is acceptable, and actually peaked last season at 7.20.
Chen has done all of this despite pitching in the American League East, known for its big bats and small ballparks. He’s mostly a fly ball pitcher, and a lot of fly balls that may be outs in other parks become home runs in the AL East. The move to the National League should help Chen because he will get to face softer lineups, but the move to the NL East should help him even more in that all but the Phillies’ park are pitcher’s parks or fair parks at worst.
Chen won’t post elite numbers in any particular category and should not be drafted as an ace. He is a #3 pitcher in a big league rotation and should be treated as such. He’ll be solid and will end the season with good numbers, perhaps the best of his career. That does not mean that fantasy owners should reach for Chen though. He’ll provide great value in later rounds and is certainly a recommended pickup to round out a fantasy rotation.
Predicted 2016 line: 14 wins, 3.55 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 170 K