Sherman (via Twitter) reported that Alan Nero, Wang’s agent, said that Wang was given the green light by Dr. James Andrews to start throwing by December 15 and that Wang may be able to pitch again by as early as the middle of April. In a follow-up tweet, Sherman noted that Yankee doctors have yet to examine Wang themselves.
This changes things from the Yankee perspective, but not greatly. They’re still a lock to non-tender him, and still won’t offer him a contract until he’s throwing on a mound again, which is at least 4-5 months away. As EJ discussed yesterday, they’ll want him off the roster for the Rule V draft so they can protect another player.
But the notion of him as some mid-season insurance policy goes out the window. Now it looks like he’ll be able to contribute to somebody for most of the season, and the question may come down to whether or not he wants to pitch with the Yankees. Wherever he signs, it’s likely that he will get a low-base pay incentive laden deal, so he’s going to want to have a regular spot in a rotation so he can prove he’s healthy and effective so as to get another (hopefully longer) deal for 2011. But if Brad Penny and John Smoltz are any guide, he could be guaranteed as much as 5 mil next year. Given how poorly that worked out for boy-genius Theo and his super-secret advanced medical analysis, I suspect no one will repeat that mistake.
In either scenario, the Yanks may not be willing to offer him a slot in the rotation with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes targeted for the starting staff next year. Given the fact he’s coming back from not one but two injuries and was completely ineffective last year even when healthy, it’s difficult to imagine the Yanks guaranteeing him anything in terms of playing time. Plus, this is his 3rd shoulder injury in his tenure with the franchise. So it may not come down to money, but playing time and Wang may be the one who decides to play elsewhere.
However, there may be a silver lining for both parties. The Yanks want to keep Hughes’ innings down next year and I doubt will repeat the way they did things with Joba this past year. One solution would be to hold Hughes back until mid-May from joining the rotation. If they do that, it would give them an opportunity to get a look at Wang from mid-April to mid-May to see what he has. Looking at the 2010 schedule, they have an off day every week in the month of April, so you can skip the 5th starter for the first two weeks of the season and add Wang in the middle of the month to get a look at him. Also, Wang’s concerns about playing time could be addressed with some easy to reach incentives built into the deal, where a 2nd year automatically kicks in if he spends X number of days on the roster.
This isn’t a no brainer, but it isn’t impossible either. I’ll bet they figure something out.
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