Chen brings stability to Marlins' rotation
A year after using 13 starters, Miami sought out innings-eating, consistently sharp lefty
JUPITER, Fla. -- No matter the situation, Wei-Yin Chen has developed the reputation of being a model of consistency. The 30-year-old left-hander is unflappable and durable.
All the attributes Chen brought to the table in four seasons with the Orioles made him the Marlins' top free-agent target. In January, Miami signed the native of Taiwan to the richest contract the organization has ever offered to a pitcher -- five years, $80 million.
"As we evaluated the free-agent market, he stood out to our group as a quality front-of-the-rotation option for us," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "He really was our first choice from the beginning of free agency. We're happy to make him a Marlin."
Miami also made a strong push for right-hander John Lackey, who ended up signing with the Cubs.
After missing out on Lackey, the Marlins remained persistent on Chen, who fills the franchise's need for a No. 2 starter behind ace Jose Fernandez. With the Orioles last year, Chen finished 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 191 1/3 innings.
Retaining rotation continuity has been a challenge for the Marlins the past few seasons. In 2015, the team used 13 different starters.
Now, with Chen locked up, the Marlins feel their one-two combination of Fernandez and Chen can match up with pretty much any club.
"I think you get quality and you get the durability," Hill said. "That's really what we wanted -- to add an upper rotation piece to help slot in behind Jose and give us depth in the rotation."
Chen has a career mark of 46-32 with a 3.72 ERA in 117 starts. In three of his four big league seasons, he's topped 185 innings.
New Marlins pitching coach Juan Nieves, formerly with the Red Sox, saw a lot of Chen in Baltimore.
"He brings, of course, an example to the other kids," Nieves said. "One of the biggest things I've always admired from him is he never retreated from the zone.
"Also, if you walk into the game and he's winning 3-0, 4-0 or losing 4-0 ... he's the same guy. He's never trying to do more. That's usually the formula of a very successful pitcher, regardless of result."