The Baltimore Orioles are feeling at the moment that trade interest in left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen is “very high,” as they are receiving more calls regarding trading for him than any other player on their roster, including right-handed pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Bud Norris, who is also garnering some interest, according to a report by Dan Connolly of MASN Sports.
Not only are their rumors regarding Orioles’ pitching, but the team has been linked to free-agent outfielder Nori Aoki, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Kubatko describes the Orioles’ interest in Aoki as “limited.” With the Orioles being linked to big name trade and free-agent targets like Atlanta Braves‘ outfielder Justin Upton, Los Angeles Dodgers‘ outfielder Matt Kemp and free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, who has also been linked to the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners, among others.
With only one-year left of team control, Chen is a free agent after the 2015 season, causing the team to listen to offers for the Taiwanese 29-year-old left-hander, but they’re not shopping him. Connolly notes that a talent evaluator told him that the Orioles could get “a healthy return of either prospects or immediate major league help” in return for Chen.
With the news of the Orioles being linked to many of the top outfield free-agent and trade targets, Baltimore could see Aoki as some sort of a back-up option. Aoki, who has also garnered interest from the Cincinnati Reds, is expected to have his agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports meet with Orioles’ president Dan Duquette this upcoming week at the annual Winter Meetings.
Chen, who had his $4.75 million team option for the 2015 season exercised by the Orioles in October, went 16-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 185.2 innings pitched over 31 starts, in what was arguably his best season in his short major-league career. In his three-year major-league career since coming over from Japan, he has pitched to a 35-24 with a 3.86 ERA in 86 career games pitched in the states.
Aoki, a 32-year-old Japanese native who came over to the major leagues the same season as Chen, recorded a slash line of .285/.349/.360 with one home run and 43 runs batted, while recording 140 hits, 22 doubles and six triples in 549 plate appearances over 132 games this past 2014 campaign.