A deal between the Nationals and right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang has been agreed upon “conceptually,” his agent Alan Nero said Wednesday but it’s not expected to get done before 12:01 a.m. on Thursday when Wang will officially hit the open market as a free agent.
“Things are progressing as normal,” Nero said in a phone interview. “In good faith we’re trying to get it done but I don’t anticipate it getting done tonight.”
A team source later confirmed that things are “progressing, but not there yet.”
Six different teams have inquired about the sinkerballer who spent the better part of the past three years rehabbing a devastating shoulder injury. The Nationals signed him twice — once before the 2010 season for $2 million, though he did not pitch at all that year, and again for an incentive-laden $1 million contract in 2011.
Wang made a triumphant return to the major leagues this past season and started 11 games for Washington. He reached several incentives in his contract this year, earning nearly $2 million for 2011 as well as he worked to a 4-3 record with a 4.04 ERA. His improvement from start to start was clear and his strength and confidence continued to grow with each outing.
Even with the interest from other teams, Nero said both he and Wang are still confident they will get a deal done to keep Wang in Washington for 2012.
“There’s no reason not to listen,” Nero said. “But there’s no reason to get off the track we’re on right now with Washington.”
Both Wang and the Nationals have made it clear that they’re interested in keeping the right-hander in the Nationals’ rotation. Last week on a conference call with reporters Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo maintained that stance, saying that the teams were “trying to negotiate a contract,” but that he “wouldn’t describe it as imminent or close but we’re still communicating and still have a mutual interest for Chien-Ming to sign with the Nationals.”
Not too much appears to have changed even as the Nationals exclusive five-day window is set to expire, though the optimism still seems to be extremely prevalent. Wang is currently pitching in the MLB Taiwan series for the Chinese Taipei team against Nationals teammates Michael Morse, Ross Detwiler and Collin Balester, along with the rest of the MLB stars who’ve made the trip.
“We’ve agreed conceptually,” Nero said. “It’s just a matter of massaging it and getting in all the details that we need.”
Nero added that there is “nothing significant” at this time that would derail a deal between the two sides.