Chen exercises option to stay with Marlins

Lefty under contract for $65 million through 2020

Chen exercises option to stay with Marlins

MIAMI -- A lingering left elbow injury has raised doubts about how often Wei-Yin Chen will be available to pitch for the Marlins in 2018. But on Sunday, the 32-year-old clarified his contract situation for next year.

Chen exercised his player option that over the next three seasons will guarantee him $65 million.

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The decision was expected, especially after Chen was hampered with injuries the past two seasons. He threw 33 innings and made nine appearances with five starts in an injury-plagued 2017.

The Marlins signed Chen to a five-year, $80 million contract in January 2016, and he had the opportunity to opt out after two seasons. At the time he signed, the Marlins hoped Chen would be a fixture at the top of the rotation. Instead, he's missed considerable time with discomfort in his throwing elbow.

Since joining Miami, Chen is 7-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 27 starts and 31 appearances in 156 1/3 innings.

Before signing as a free agent, the left-hander from Taiwan had a track record of durability in four seasons with the Orioles. In 2015, he logged 191 1/3 innings and pitched in the postseason.

Chen was the Marlins' Opening Day starter in '16, but he missed a couple of months late in the season before he was eased back in '17. He was the fourth starter coming out of Spring Training and finished the year 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA.

Chen takes no-no through seven

On May 5, Chen was placed on the disabled list with left elbow fatigue. He returned as a reliever on Sept. 4. Even in limited opportunities in September, Chen complained about discomfort in his elbow and was shut down. The Marlins are not sure if Chen will be ready for Opening Day.

Chen has acknowledged he has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, but Tommy John surgery has not been recommended.

The injury concerns regarding Chen complicates the Marlins' quest to upgrade their rotation.

Chen's contract also puts the Marlins in a bind.

Chen's base salary for 2018 is $10 million, and he will also receive $5 million of a $13 million signing bonus. The second installment of the bonus is owed next June.

Along with Chen's injury, the Marlins are prepared to be without Edinson Volquez, their No. 1 starter in '17, for all of next year. Volquez had Tommy John surgery during his first season in Miami. The right-hander is signed for $13 million in '18.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.