The Washington Nationals and right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang agreed Thursday on a one-year contract, according to a team source. The deal, pending a physical, is for $4 million with performance incentives.
Washington's first free agent signing of the offseason keeps the 31-year-old sinkerballer in the fold and helps shore up a rotation that is expected to include Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Wang in four of the five slots.
Wang had said from the end of the season — after a successful return to the major leagues — that he wanted to be back and felt indebted to the Nationals for showing faith in him as he recovered from injury the past two years.
Thursday evening, while he was in Taiwan with the MLB All-Star Series as a member of the Chinese Taipei team, he was able to do just that.
"I really appreciate their patience the last two years," Wang said in September when asked about the loyalty he felt to the Nationals.
Six teams inquired about the sinkerballer, Alan Nero said, but Wang's agent believed that a deal with the Nationals was imminent.
Wang spent the better part of the past two years rehabbing a shoulder injury.
This is the third time the Nationals have signed Wang, including once before the 2010 season for $2 million, though he did not pitch that year, and again for an incentive-laden $1 million contract in 2011.
Wang started 11 games this past season. He finished 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA and reached several incentives in his contract and earned nearly $2 million.
His improvement was steady, and his strength and confidence grew with each outing.
"As far as I'm concerned, ever since he's started throwing again, he's a keeper," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said about Wang in September. "I've kind of had that thinking all along. Every time he goes out there, I've seen a little bit of improvement."
On Wednesday, Nero said the two sides had agreed "conceptually" but it was just a matter of "massaging it and getting in all the details that we need."
Washington still is expected to pursue another front-line starter this offseason. The Nationals already scouted Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish, and Texas ace C.J. Wilson, the Chicago White Sox' Mark Buehrle and St. Louis' Edwin Jackson could also be on their radar.
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