Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin has opted out of his minor league contract with the Indians, the team announced. The former Rockies rotation stalwart was surprisingly released late in Spring Training and inked a minors pact with Cleveland in April.
Still just 27 years of age, Chacin pitched relatively well with Cleveland’s top minor league affiliate, posting a 3.21 ERA in 42 innings out of the Columbus rotation. However, he also continued a trend of diminished strikeouts, averaging just 5.4 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 with the Clippers. Chacin at one time looked to be a budding strikeout artist, whiffing 138 batters in 137 1/3 innings of 3.28 ERA ball with the Rockies’ big league club in 2010. Since that time, he’s averaged just 6.2 K/9 in the Majors.
All that said, Chacin would seem to represent a reasonable gamble for a club looking for options at the back end of its rotation. He’s been relatively successful at Triple-A this year and could be controlled for the 2016 season via arbitration in the event that he experiences a turnaround at the Major League level. (Chacin entered the season with five year, 12 days of big league service, so even jumping directly onto a big league roster would leave him about 50 days shy of six full years of MLB service time.)
It’s easy to say that a contending club in need of a fourth or fifth starter might prefer a more certain option than Chacin, but in a market with few sellers, that’s not necessarily something that one can easily acquire. Buyers are at a disadvantage on the current trade market, with only the Phillies and Brewers looking like definitive sellers. The A’s, White Sox and Reds may eventually join that group of clubs, but Cincinnati seems likely to wait until after it hosts the All-Star Game, and the Sox and A’s have seemingly yet to throw in the towel despite lackluster starts.
That lack of selling teams stands to benefit Chacin, in my eyes. As a pitcher with a reasonably sound Major League track record and some recent success at the Triple-A level, I’d think Chacin will draw some interest from contenders as well as rebuilding clubs like the Phillies that are simply looking to plus some quality innings into their rotation.