According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the Dodgers have been keeping close tabs on pitcher Chien-Ming Wang recently and they are saying that he is at least three months away from actually returning.
This has got to take some of the wind out of his sails because the last we heard Wang’s agent, Alan Nero, was pretty optimistic about getting a deal done quickly. At the time they thought Wang was on track to contribute during spring training with a possible return in May. Now this latest news has him returning in June at the earliest.
From what I can tell there haven’t been any setbacks. It’s just one of those things where they were just guessing in the first place and as time progresses they get a better idea of where things stand. The last update also came from Wang’s agent who is always going to be more optimistic than the teams.
This is exactly the reason why the Yankees decided to non-tender Wang in the first place though. It’s making Brian Cashman look pretty smart here too. $4 million might not seem like a lot to spend on Wang, but if he isn’t going to pitch until July then that $4 million becomes mostly a waste.
This does kind of bode well for those Yankee fans hoping to see him return as the situation looked hopeless and has now been upgraded to bleak regarding his return. The other day I wrote that fans might as well say goodbye now, and that’s probably still the case, but this slightly changes things.
The longer he is out for, the longer teams are going to want to wait to sign him, and the more time for things to go wrong with the Yankees rotation. At this point that’s what it would take for him to return to the Bronx, something to go wrong.
Let’s say it’s late May/early June and the Yankees have had an injury or two and one or more of the young pitchers is disappointing. If Wang is still on the market then you could expect the Yankees to have interest. That’s very unlikely, but certainly possible.
I still don’t think you should count on it. I also don’t think any Yankee fan is hoping for the conditions that it would take to secure his return because if he does come back it means things aren’t going as planned for the Bombers.