Jerry Dipoto has said in the past that he wanted to add another veteran starter to the mix, and we may now know who that is.
Yesterday, veteran pitcher Wei-Yin Chen took to Facebook to post an intriguing photo of himself with the caption “Spring training is approaching, and the next stop I have long awaited is coming soon.” Taking this into consideration, Chen appears to be hinting towards a deal with the Mariners as the photo shows him sipping from a mug with a silhouette of the Seattle skyline on it.
As Lookout Landing pointed out on Twitter, Chen is holding Starbucks’ special edition Seattle Relief mug. Chen may very well just own the mug for the sake of the cause, but the curious decision to include it in a post about the future of his career just seems too on the nose to be a coincidence.
If it is true and Chen is actually signing with the Mariners, he’ll likely enter a three-man battle for the fifth and final spot in Seattle’s rotation with Justin Dunn and Nick Margevicius. Chen did, however, exclusively serve out of the bullpen for the Marlins last year, though he severely struggled to the tune of a 5.23 FIP in 68.1 innings pitched.
Of the 14 bullpen hopefuls on the Mariners’ current roster (not counting the injured Austin Adams), only two are left-handed, so the southpaw Chen would certainly provide a bit more variety to the competition. Chen has been tough on left-handed hitters in his career, with opponents slashing just .246/.286/.389 against him; however, teams are starting to move away from using a roster spot on LOOGYs, and the Mariners showed their hand when they cut Zac Rosscup midseason last year.
In all likelihood, Chen will sign a minor league contract, whether it be with the Mariners or another team. At the very least, Chen could be this year’s version of Tommy Milone for Seattle; someone that can give them solid innings in a time of need. We’ll see what comes of it.
UPDATE: Our ol’ pal Jon Heyman is reporting that Chen does indeed have a deal with the Mariners, so look forward to a further breakdown from us once more details come out.