Yankees sign former Opening Day starter who fell off cliff after 2018


The Yankees have signed free agent starter Jhoulys Chacin. Boring!

We know the Yankees are biding their time and waiting to ideally come to an agreement with DJ LeMahieu before making any other prominent moves.

But that doesn’t make their current maneuvers look any less like a parody of a typical offseason.

The wait could be justified, but the optics are never good when you’re signing Greg Allen while the cross-town Mets are trading for Francisco Lindor. Two old Indians, one of them good. So it goes.

Again on Wednesday, the Yankees snuck in like thieves in the night with a signing that wasn’t even formally announced, only discovered after giving the league’s transactions page a once-over. Apparently, the Yanks signed righty Jhoulys Chacin, someone who missed very few bats but found success through 2018, but has been far from effective ever since.

Back in ’18, Chacin was actually ascending, starting on Opening Day for the Brewers, leading the National League with 35 starts, and going 15-8 with a 3.50 ERA in the NL Central. It was his second straight season with an ERA under 4.00 — in fact, of the six full seasons of his career, to that point (20+ starts), he had ERAs under that benchmark in five of them. Good pitcher, deceptive, but never posted a strikeout per inning during that surge following his age-22 season in Colorado.

Since 2018, though, it’s been a very different story. Chacin’s follow-up in Milwaukee featured a 5.79 ERA, and he bounced to Boston in the middle of the season, “patching up” the Red Sox rotation with a 7.36 ERA in five starts. In 2020, he posted a 7.20 ERA in two outings out of Atlanta’s bullpen, and so he comes to the Yankees at his lowest point.

On a positive note, Chacin became an American citizen this week, celebrated his 33rd birthday, and signed with the greatest baseball team in the land for $800,000, with $200,000 in incentives, per Jon Heyman. Perhaps that’ll change his trajectory.

For minor-league depth, you could do much worse than Chacin, who was an effective big leaguer for most of his career prior to 2019.

But if he’s one of the team’s prominent rotation additions, that’d be disappointing.