In a teleconference with D.C. baseball writers last week, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo once again confirmed reports that the Nationals were talking to 31-year-old right-hander Chien-Ming Wang about a deal to bring the two-time 19-game winner (w/ the NY Yankees) back for a third year in the Nationals' organization. The Nats' general manager would only say then that, "We are in communication and we're trying to negotiate a contract [with Wang]. I wouldn't describe it as imminent or close, but we're still communicating and we still have a mutual interest for Chien-Ming to sign with the Nationals." According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats), the two sides are a lot closer to a deal tonight as the MLB.com writer just reported on the Twitter:
"I was informed that RHP Chien-Ming Wang is close to an agreement with the #Nats. Both sides are working out contract language."
"Even if a deal is not done by 12:01 a.m. ET tonight, agent Alan Nero is confident that a deal will get done between Wang and the #Nats."
The Taiwanese starter, signed as a free agent by the Nationals before the 2010 season, spent the better part of two years recovering from shoulder surgery, but made it back to the mound in the majors late this year, starting eleven times and posting a 4.04 ERA, 4.57 FIP, 1.88 BB/9 and 3.61 K/9 over 62.1 IP. Nats' manager Davey Johnson endorsed the idea of Wang being brought back in 2012 after Wang's next-to-last start of the season, telling reporters, "As far as I'm concerned, ever since he's started throwing again, he's a keeper."
Reports earlier this afternoon had the two sides continuing to talk with as many as six other teams interested in Wang's services according to his agent. The Nationals' window to negotiate exclusively with their free agents ends at 12:01 am tonight/tomorrow morning. More news when it's available. Wang's currently in Taiwan, and expected to pitch for the Chinese Taipei All-Star team that's playing a squad of MLB players in the Taiwan All-Star Series.