Asian hurlers present interesting options

Asian hurlers present interesting options

DALLAS -- The Tigers have largely stayed out of the fray among free-agent starting pitchers, certainly among the big names. But there's another market for free-agent hurlers with the crop of Asian arms set to test the American waters, a market the Tigers have tracked more in recent years.

They've had scouts watching this year's group as well. Whether it's a market the Tigers might test, team president/ general manager Dave Dombrowski isn't willing to say, but it isn't one they've ignored.

"I don't think we're on the verge of [signing] anybody from the Asian market," Dombrowski said Tuesday from the Winter Meetings, "but we're aware of some players that are there."

The Tigers have already ruled out any pursuit of top name Yu Darvish, who may or may not be posted for a bidding process this winter. The potential contract offers he'll draw, as well as the bidding cost to earn the right to negotiate with him, doesn't appeal to the Tigers, who are looking for a lower-cost option to fill their fifth-starter spot.

Beyond Darvish are some lesser-known arms, including a couple of left-handers, that could attract Major League interest. Wei-Yin Chen, a Taiwanese lefty who pitched in Japan this year, is a true free agent who won't go through the posting system. With a lower-90s fastball, he throws harder than most Japanese pitchers on the market and projects as a potential lower-level starter.

Tsuyoshi Wada is slightly more of a finesse pitcher with a reported fastball in the 80s. He has had more wear and tear, but has more experience.