Wang becomes free agent after Yankees decline contract

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Taiwanese pitcher Wang Chien-ming has become a free agent after the New York Yankees declined to offer him a 2010 contract.

"There's no doubt that we had to make a tough decision," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement on Saturday.

"We are still hopeful that our relationship can continue but those decisions are yet to be made."

Wang, a two-time 19-game winner who has struggled in recent years with injuries, will now pursue a contract with all 30 Major League Baseball clubs, his agent told MLB's official website (www.mlb.com).

Under baseball labor rules, the Yankees would have had to pay the 29-year-old at least $4 million to keep him under contract.

New York could still sign the right-hander to a lesser, incentive-based deal, agent Alan Nero said Wang would take all other options into consideration.

"I think it's difficult to rationalize a non-tender as further building a bridge with a team, but we'll see," Nero said.

Wang, once considered to be the ace of the New York staff, posted 1-6 record with a 9.64 earned run average in 2009 before undergoing surgery in July for shoulder pain.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. Editing by Alastair Himmersports)