To make room on the 40-man roster, the Orioles have designated outfielder Kyle Hudson for assignment.
Chen, 26, will be the first Taiwanese-born player in Orioles history. The 6-foot, 195-lb. left-hander went 36-30 with a 2.48 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 117 games (88 starts) over the last four seasons with the Chunichi Dragons in the Central League of Nippon Professional Baseball.
“I am extremely excited about this opportunity to challenge the Major Leagues and begin the next chapter of my professional baseball career,” Chen said in a statement. “I am thankful for the support of my family, my fans, the Chunichi Dragons and Baltimore Orioles organizations which allowed me to continue to pursue my dream. I will do my best to help the Orioles to the championship.”
Chen set career highs with 13 wins, 27 starts, 188 innings pitched and 153 strikeouts in 2010. He led the league with a 1.54 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and four shutouts in 164 innings in 2009.
“Chen works off of a 92-94 mile per hour fastball and he uses a hard, slurve-like breaking ball as an out-pitch,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said in the same statement. “He has exceptional command and we like the quality of his pitches to help our team.”
Chen was a member of the Chinese Taipei national baseball team in both the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics. He went 1-0 in two starts in the 2008 Games, tossing seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over the Netherlands on Aug. 13.
His name is pronounced “Way-Ying Chen.”
A press conference will be held in Taipei, Taiwan at 11 a.m. (Taiwan time) on Jan. 16 at the Sherwood Taipei Hotel (http://www.sherwood.com.tw/). Ray Poitevint, the Orioles’ new executive director of international baseball, will represent the club.
As for Hudson, 25, he climbed from Single-A Frederick to the majors last season and hit a combined .296/.375/.336 in 119 games at three minor league levels. He batted .143 (4-for-28) in 14 games with the Orioles, and will mostly be remembered for scoring the tying run on Nolan Reimold’s ground-rule double off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning of the final regular-season game on Sept. 28.
The Orioles are hoping that Hudson clears waivers and can be outrighted.
Also, the Orioles have re-signed reliever Willie Eyre to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Eyre went 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA in 19 games with the Orioles, who designated him for assignment after trading for Dana Eveland at the winter meetings.
I’ve heard that the Orioles also signed pitcher Ross Wolf to a minor league contract with a spring training invite. The Orioles traded Wolf to the Athletics for Jake Fox on June 22, 2010.
One more minor league signing: left-hander Ryan Edell, who went 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA in 12 starts at Double-A Reading and 5-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 17 games (10 starts) with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Indians drafted him in the eighth round in 2005.
The Orioles still haven’t announced their minor league managers and coaching staffs, but I’ve gotten confirmation that Dan Radison, who was hired as Double-A Bowie’s hitting coach, has taken a job with the Houston Astros as a special assistant to the general manager. Radison served as the Nationals’ first base coach last year before Jim Riggleman resigned.
Though it’s not official, Ron Johnson apparently will manage at Triple-A Norfolk, Gary Kendall at Double-A Bowie, Orlando Gomez at Single-A Frederick, Ryan Minor at Single-A Demarva and Gary Allenson at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. Ramon Sambo is expected to manage the rookie league Gulf Coast Orioles.