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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baltimore vs. Washington: A Taiwanese Rivalry?

A Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation 台灣菸酒公司 "research and development center" located close to my daughter's kindergarten. Although there's a large poster of a bottle of beer on the side of the building, cigarettes are produced here. You can often smell the aroma of rolled fags (that's British English for those who aren't in the know) as you pass by.

From the sports desks of the Associated Press, courtesy of Japan Today:

Taiwanese left-hander Wei-yin Chen 陳偉殷 and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a three-year contract worth $11,338,000 (NT337.9 million), a move aimed at improving a starting rotation that struggled last year.
 
Chen went 36-30 with a 2.48 ERA in 117 games, including 88 starts, over the last four seasons with the Chūnichi Dragons 中日ドラゴンズ of Japan’s Central League セントラル・リーグ. The 26-year-old will become the first Orioles player born in Taiwan.
 
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette says Chen has “exceptional command” with a 92-94 mph (148-150 kph) fastball and a hard breaking ball as his “out pitch.”
 
Chen gets a $250,000 (NT7.45 million) signing bonus and salaries of $3,072,000 (NT91.5 million) this year, $3,572,000 (NT106.4 million) in 2013 and $4,072,000 (NT121.3 million) in 2014. The Orioles have a $4.75 million
(NT141.5 million) option for 2015 with a $372,000 (NT11.1 million) buyout. 

The China Post's article on Chen's deal adds some additional details:

If Chen makes the Orioles roster, he will become the first Taiwanese player to have played at Japanese professional baseball before singed by a U.S. Major League team.

He will also become the first local player to sign multi-year contract with an MLB team. 

Chien-ming Wang 王建民 of the Washington Nationals had previously sought a multi-year contract during his years with the New York Yankees failed in the attempt. 

Chen's reported deal with the Orioles pays him just under US$4 million a year and therefore does not rank as the highest single-year salary paid to a Taiwanese player in the U.S.

That record is still held by Wang, who made US$5 million (NT149 million) in 2009 in his last year with the Yankees...

 ...The southern city Kaohsiung (Gāo​xióng 高雄)-native will be the second starting pitcher signed by new Orioles GM Dan Duquette out of the Japanese leagues this offseason, joining Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada 和田毅.



The Orioles previously signed the 30-year-old Japanese southpaw under a two-year, US$8.15 million (¥627.4 million) deal.

Chen is also the first Taiwanese player to be signed by the Baltimore team.

Though the Orioles hope Chen will fit into their starting rotation, the Taiwanese lefty will face stiff competition, with eight pitchers potentially vying for only five starting slots.

Though their teams are in different leagues, Baltimore and Washington are natural geographic rivals, and should meet every season (especially from 2013, when the Houston Astros move from the National League Central to the American League West). Should Wen make the Orioles' rotation, you can expect a great deal of local interest when his team and the Nationals play each other.

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