Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
Injuries derailed Wada’s big arrival in the States; he underwent Tommy John surgery before he even donned an Orioles cap. As such the rest of his brief tenure mostly flew under the radar. He spent most of the 2013 season in AAA Norfolk, where his numbers were underwhelming: he logged 102.2 innings in 19 starts. While his 7.0 K/9 was a solid mark, his 4.03 ERA and 1.43 WHIP left something to be desired.
So is there enough upside to make this worthwhile for the Cubs? Maybe not. Look at what Eno Sarris wrote for FanGraphs almost exactly two years ago (article entitled ‘Who is Tsuyoshi Wada?’):
He didn’t once crack 90 MPH last year — that one rogue dot actually registered an 89.97 on the gun if we want to be sticklers about it. He doesn’t really have a ten MPH difference between his fastball and his changeup, and his curve seems to be erratic…All of this paints a picture of a guy without a great deal of stuff. Patrick Newman felt something similar: ‘He’s a bit of a nibbler.’
…And you have to add in some questions about durability. The 5’10″, 170-pound Wada has had cartilage surgery on his left elbow and missed half of 2009 with issues in the same joint, and never went far into games to begin with. In 2010, he averaged about six and a half innings per start, and last year, that number was just above seven.
And now we are two years and one Tommy John surgery removed from that assessment. So this might be a low-risk signing, but I’m not sure there’s much to be said about the potential reward.