By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Veteran Taiwanese pitcher Chien-ming Wang (王建民) has signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals to continue his dream of playing in the U.S., his agency announced Friday. Wang signed a deal that includes a monthly salary of US$16,000 and an invitation to spring training, Wang’s talent agency, Flight International Marketing, said in a statement. His annual salary will rise to US$1 million with an additional US$1.5 million in incentives should he be called up to the big leagues, the statement added. According to the agency, the Royals began actively recruiting Wang in December and have pledged to give the Taiwanese righty a chance to start in the upcoming spring training.
The team reportedly also said it would give the 35-year-old veteran opportunities as long reliever. “Wang has always been preparing to return to the big leagues for years, and the reason he chose to join the Royals is that the team has offered him another role as long reliever, thus giving him more of a chance to be called up,” the agency said in the statement. Wang hopes his fans will continue to support him in the upcoming season, it added. The statement confirmed rumors about Wang’s contract that had circulated in several foreign media outlets earlier on Friday. The contract means Wang is set to continue to pitch in U.S. baseball this year. The upcoming 2016 season will be his 17th in the U.S.
For years, multiple pro teams in Taiwan have conveyed interest in signing Wang should he choose to return. The Tainan-born hurler currently holds the record for most wins by a Taiwan-born pitcher in the U.S. major leagues. Wang was an ace starter with the New York Yankees from 2005 to 2008.
He had back-to-back 19-win seasons in 2006 and 2007 before suffering a foot injury, which led to a slide in his career. Wang last pitched in the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013, finishing 1-2 in six starts with a 7.67 earned run average (ERA). Since then, Wang has pitched in the minors for the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners. In a game last year between the Tacoma Rainiers (Triple-A affiliate of Mariners) and Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves affiliate), Wang went 6-11 with a 5.88 ERA in 130 innings. The deal came only one day after Wang and his family returned to the U.S. after spending a month in Taiwan on vacation. Prior to his departure, Wang told reporters at the airport that he would step up his personal training after arriving in the U.S.