This past summer, a friend of mine went on a baseball vacation to the East Coast. He made it to a Washington Nationals game, and brought me home a red Wang shirsey. After reading that sentence, you have made an assumption about my friend, and you have made an assumption about me. Maybe we just really like Chien-Ming Wang, and think he's a good pitcher.
The point is that the shirsey isn't outdated. Wang was set to become a free agent after the year, but now that's not going to happen. Heyman:
Nats, Wang have agreed in principle on a 1-year deal
Heyman's report comes a few hours after this report from William Ladson:
I was informed that RHP Chien-Ming Wang is close to an agreement with the Nats. Both sides are working out contract language.
There was talk in the recent past that the Nationals were highly interested in bringing Wang back. They weren't close to an agreement last Wednesday, and just this morning it seemed likely that Wang would hit the open market, but things must've moved quickly. For this agreement to be reached now suggests that the Nationals really like Wang (ed. note: *sigh*), and that Wang really likes the Nationals.
Wang actually signed with the Nationals originally in February 2010. He was coming off shoulder surgery, and the Nationals gave him a one-year deal. He didn't pitch, all season. The Nationals re-signed him in December, again to a one-year deal, and this time he recovered enough to make 11 big league starts, the first coming on July 29. Clearly, the Nationals liked what they saw, and Wang liked the way he was treated.
How did Wang do over those 11 starts? Here are the basics:
- 62⅓ innings
- 67 hits
- 35 runs
- 8 homers
- 13 walks
- 25 strikeouts
- 4.04 ERA
Not shown in there is that, over Wang's final four starts, he generated 16 strikeouts without walking anybody. Additionally, Wang generated 53 percent ground balls. He was at 53 percent his last year with the Yankees, and 55 percent the year before that, so the sinker-baller kept it up with the sinker-balls. Wang managed to survive in the first place despite a low strikeout rate because he generated so many grounders, and that's still his strength.
Wang was by no means great as a National in 2011. Wang has really never been great, but he was even more not-great in 2011 than he was earlier in his career. But he was okay, and, more importantly, he made progress. By re-signing him to a one-year contract, the Nationals are giving Wang a rotation spot, and they'll look for him to make even more progress as he gets further and further away from his surgery. Maybe he stays where he is and he pitches like someone on the fringe, but if Wang gets better, the Nationals will end up with quite the return on their investment.