Eric Chavez rediscovered some pop in his bat this past season, drilling 16 home runs. (Image: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Yankees should consider Eric Chavez for another season


When Eric Chavez re-signed with the New York Yankees last season, they hoped he would once again provide a reliable glove in the field and a modest bat to spell Alex Rodriguez at third base. He did much more than that and his production in 2012 should provoke the Yankees to consider a third season in pinstripes for Chavez.

Chavez’s agent, Scott Leventhal, indicated yesterday that his client does indeed plan on returning to the field in 2013.

“Chavy has no intention of retiring,” Leventhal said. “We have spoken to and met with multiple clubs regarding his future in baseball.”

Leventhal would not directly comment on whether the Yankees are one of those teams, but it would be foolish for Chavez to exclude them.

With Rodriguez almost a guarantee for two disabled list trips, or at least a candidate to be rested once or twice per week to avoid injury and fatigue, Chavez seems like the perfect fit for the club. He’d also be able to spell Mark Teixeira at first base, something that is lost with Nick Swisher leaving the Bronx.

Chavez fits because he’s a one-year contract situation; something the Yankees are trying hard to adhere to in as many signings as possible this offseason with the 2014 competitive balance threshold looming. He will also not cost too much in salary which is a modest concern for general manager Brian Cashman, even if the contract is just for one season. Chavez will likely command a healthy raise over his $900,000 paycheck in 2012.

Chavez, was on the field much more than the Yankees and probably he thought entering the season. When Rodriguez suffered a broken hand after getting hit by a pitch, it was mostly Chavez who saw time at third base and he looked more like the player the Oakland A’s once saw daily, than the man who was reduced to a strict bench role in 2011. Chavez’s performance was impressive in 313 plate appearances — .281/.348/.496, a .216 ISO with 16 home runs and 37 RBI — good for a 1.8 fWAR. For perspective, Rodriguez went .272/.353/.430 with 18 homers and 74 RBI in 524 plate appearances, resulting in a 2.2 fWAR.

Chavez is not quite as good in the field as he once was but he is not a detriment with the glove. His range has become limited compared to what it was when he was in his prime, but the same exact thing can be said about Rodriguez. Per the fielding metrics, Chavez was actually a modest improvement over Rodriguez (-4.1 UZR/150 versus -8.8).

I’m not suggesting that Chavez is a threat to Rodriguez’s job, nor does he profile to start on any team, but he makes more than a competent fill-in. I also don’t believe anyone should suspect that Chavez could duplicate his production with the stick in 2013. But, even if he fell somewhere between his 2012 and 2011 numbers (.263/.320/.356, 2 HR and 27 RBI in 175 plate appearances) it would provide the Yankees with what they need and that is simply some insurance.

Of course, the Yankees will not be focusing on the bench roles when the Winter Meetings kick off this morning in Nashville, Tenn., especially with the holes needed to be be filled in right field and at catcher. But, they should reach out to Chavez if they haven’t already and gauge his interest in a third season in the Bronx. He more than proved he has something left in his bat and showed he can be productive in short spurts or for extended time.

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Tags: Eric Chavez New York Yankees

  • ikkf

    I think the Yanks could kill two birds with one stone by getting Youkilis in there, and they could get him for cheap.

    • http://YanksGoYard.com/ Matt Hunter

      I wonder how much he would cost. I agree with you that he could be a nice high-reward option. Personally, I would love to see a platoon of either him or Keppinger with Chavez, but the cost might be too high for that.

      • Chris_Carelli

        Youkilis will not come cheap in my opinion. He apparently has multiyear offers on the table, though he’ll accept a one-year deal for a team with “championship aspirations.” and that deal would to be worth more. If they ink Keppinger, he’d be on the short end of a platoon with Chavez because of the side of the plate they hit from, and I’m not sure he’s open to that, though he can fill in everywhere else in the infield too (except first) to give days off etc. I think they can afford to have both those guys (Keppinger and Chavez) and it still cost less than Youkilis will. Having both provides more depth for sure.

        • ikkf

          Just read on the Daily News that Chavez just signed with Arizona. This could shake things up a bit.

          • Chris_Carelli

            Lost him, lost Keppinger to White Sox and Youk is deep in discussion with Cleveland apparently. Reunion with Francona…

          • ikkf

            If it’s any consolation, Chavez is pretty brittle, so it would have been a tossup with him anyhow.

          • Chris_Carelli

            So is Youkilis (at least the last couple seasons). They met with Mark Reynolds’ agents today.

          • ikkf

            That’s good to hear. Reynolds would be a great fit, and I believe a 1-year contract would be do-able with him.

          • Chris_Carelli

            You think there becomes a problem with his strikeouts and Granderson’s?

          • ikkf

            I guess I’m weird in that I don’t think strikeouts are as big a deal as most people do. A K has no real statistical value in my book. I’d rather have a guy strike out than ground into a double play. If a guy is walking a lot and striking out a lot, that means he’s getting out on good pitches at least. Guys who walk a lot generally don’t ground into many double plays. Though .319 isn’t a great OBP, it’s not too bad when you consider Grandy’s avg was only .232. His 71 unintentional walks made him a more effective hitter than he seems.

          • http://YanksGoYard.com/ Matt Hunter

            Completely agree, ikkf. Strikeouts are only marginally worse than any other kind of out, and better than double plays, like you said. I wrote about Granderson’s strikeout “problem” a while back in case you’re interested: http://yanksgoyard.com/2012/10/22/how-problematic-are-grandersons-strikeouts/

          • ikkf

            Excellent article, Matt. I think Grandy is due for a big bounceback next season like Swisher in ’09.

          • Chris_Carelli

            But can the team afford to have two guys with the same “issues” in the lineup daily? That was where I was going with the initial question. We’re not talking 100 strikeouts each, we’re talking easily 175 each. At that point, does it matter if they bounce in a double play or both K with a guy on base?

          • http://YanksGoYard.com/ Matt Hunter

            Chris, I don’t really understand why it matters. Offensive production is offensive production…doesn’t really matter where it comes from. You could maybe make a case that they shouldn’t be right next to each other in the batting order, but other than that I don’t see the problem with it (other than Reynolds being bad).

          • ikkf

            I don’t think it would be a problem. There are many examples of good teams with guys who struck out a lot. The ’93 Tigers’ lineup was filled with all-or-nothing sluggers who walked a lot including Rob Deer, Mickey Tettleton, Cecil Fielder, Travis Fryman, Chad Kreuter, Tony Phillips, but they still scored a ton of runs and were contenders.

          • ikkf

            Can you imagine how George would be reacting to all this if he were around? He’d be beside himself. And overreacting.