Jesse Chavez Rumors

13 Role Changes That Have Impacted Earning Power

Each offseason, teams and fans alike spend the winter projecting a 25-man roster on paper in an attempt to plot out as accurately as possible the way in which a season will progress. Oftentimes, a roster is more or less set from an early standpoint. Those expectations fluctuate based not only on player movement — trades and free agency, of course, have a strong impact on roster construction — but also on elements such as spring performances, injuries and early season success/struggles. Rarely do rosters, and the roles occupied by the players on that roster, shake out the way in which most pundits expected.

In many cases, the changes within a roster can come with significant financial implications for the players who find themselves in a more prominent role. Those who find themselves receiving the short end of the stick, of course, can see their future fortunes diminished.

It’s early in the 2015 season, but already we’ve seen some shifts in role and/or playing time that will make some players considerably wealthier in arbitration, as well as some that figure to severely damage a player’s arbitration case.

Rising Earning Power

Adam Ottavino: Typically, players like Ottavino are the ones that the Cardinals find rather than let go, but St. Louis tried to get the now-29-year-old Ottavino through waivers in 2012 and lost him to the Rockies. Ottavino has been a revelation in the Colorado bullpen, boosting his velocity and ditching his changeup for a devastating slider that has turned him into a late-inning weapon. Ottavino was recently named the new closer by manager Walt Weiss, and he’ll have a chance to head into his second trip through arbitration with a bucket of saves under his arm. The difference between entering arb as a setup man and entering as a closer could be worth millions.

Jeurys Familia: The same role change that benefits Ottavino will do the same for Familia, who entered the season setting up for Jenrry Mejia. However, an 80-game suspension for Mejia and Bobby Parnell‘s recovery from Tommy John surgery have opened the door for Familia to take the reins in the ninth inning. He’s notched a 6-to-1 K/BB ratio in his first 4 2/3 innings this season, and while he hasn’t necessarily secured the job through season’s end — Parnell or Mejia could reclaim the job later in the year — a season resembling last year’s 2.21 ERA in the ninth inning would yield a significant arbitration payday. Zach Britton, for example, parlayed one elite season as a closer into a $3.2MM payday this year, though the two aren’t perfect comparables. (Britton was a Super Two and didn’t have multiple strong seasons under his belt, as Familia theoretically will.) Ottavino landed a $1.3MM salary his first time through arb after a strong season of setup work, however, giving a rough idea of the potential gap between the two roles.

Lorenzo Cain: Entering last season, Cain was the Royals’ No. 8 hitter and didn’t get into the lineup on an everyday basis, as he split time with Jarrod Dyson in center field. Cain didn’t hit higher in the batting order than sixth until June 17 last season, but he’s batted third every day and started in center each game for the Royals this year. Cain doesn’t have the power one would typically expect from a No. 3 hitter, but his preposterous defense will keep him in the lineup every day, and hitting in the heart of the order will lead to plenty of RBI opportunities. A Gold Glove and a career-high in RBIs (which wouldn’t be hard to come by, as it currently stands at 53) will go a long way toward bolstering his $2.725MM salary.

Evan Gattis: The transition from catcher/outfielder in the National League to DH/outfielder in the American League should afford Gattis with the opportunity to see more playing time and therefore accumulate more counting stats to pad his first arbitration case this winter. While it’s true that he probably has more value behind the plate — that type of offense from a catcher is indeed quite rare — defense isn’t as highly rewarded via the arbitration process as good old fashioned homers and RBIs. Gattis has struggled to open the year, but career-highs in home runs, RBIs and most other counting stats wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Leonys Martin: Martin’s role may not appear different on the surface, as he still figures to man center field on an everyday basis if healthy. However, Martin received just 40 games in the leadoff spot in 2014, spending the bulk of his time occupying the 7th and 8th slots in the Rangers lineup. Manager Jeff Banister declared Martin his leadoff hitter and voiced confidence in his ability to handle the role, even after struggling out of the gate in 2015. Martin’s dropped to eighth in each of the past two games, but Banister said that decision was “tinkering” to give the lineup “a different look,” rather than anything permanent. Martin averaged 3.76 plate appearances per game in 2014 but has averaged 4.4 per game in 2015. Over the course of 150 games, that comes out to an extra 150 to 155 games, that’d be an extra 96 to 100 plate appearances for Martin — a valuable increase in opportunities to boost his counting stats as he wraps up a five-year, $15.5MM contract and heads into arbitration for the first time.

Jordan Schafer: The former top prospect broke camp with the Braves as a reserve outfielder in 2014 and started just 13 games all season before the Twins claimed him on waivers in early August. Schafer impressed the Twins enough that there was never any real thought to non-tendering him (despite a marginal track record), and he outplayed Aaron Hicks in Spring Training to earn a regular role in center field to begin the season. Schafer is in a platoon with Shane Robinson, and he’ll have to hold off Hicks, Eddie Rosario and perhaps even Byron Buxton to keep his playing time, but he’s unquestionably been presented with a better financial opportunity than he was in Atlanta.

Declining Earning Power

Wilin Rosario: After spending the bulk of the past three seasons as Colorado’s everyday catcher, Rosario will now transition to a part-time role in which he’ll be used as an occasional first baseman against left-handed pitching. Rosario will also make sporadic appearances in the outfield and behind the plate. Rosario’s power has never been in question, but he’s regarded as one of the game’s worst defensive backstops and will be without a regular role of which to speak. The decrease in playing time is a critical blow to his earning potential, as his $2.8MM salary won’t be increasing by much if the early stages of the season are any indication of his playing time. Rosario has seven plate appearances in six games thus far.

Welington Castillo: Manager Joe Maddon can refer to the Cubs’ combination of Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo as his “three-headed catcher,” but Castillo, formerly Chicago’s starting catcher, and his agent would likely describe the situation much more colorfully behind closed doors. Castillo took home a $2.1MM payday in his first trip through the arb cycle this winter, but like Rosario, he’s seen virtually no plate appearances in 2015. Castillo has appeared in four games and picked up seven PAs. Now that they’ve been through the arb process once, the raises awarded to Rosario and Castillo will be based almost solely upon their 2015 results, so their pay bumps figure to be rather paltry in nature.

Brett Cecil: Cecil was tabbed to as the Blue Jays’ closer to enter the season, but he relinquished those duties to 20-year-old Miguel Castro almost instantly. Cecil’s diminished velocity played a role in that decision, and while he may work his way back into the ninth inning, he looks like he’s tabbed for a setup role in the immediate future. A full season of saves would be a boon for next winter’s arbitration case, but that looks unlikely now.

Ruben Tejada: The Mets have had a hole at shortstop since Jose Reyes departed, and while Tejada got the chance to fill the void last year, it’s Wilmer Flores getting that opportunity this year. Tejada started 105 games in 2014, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll come anywhere near that number in 2015, barring injuries around the diamond. Tejada’s light bat limited his earning power in the first place, but a lack of regular at-bats will further limit the raise he’ll receive on this year’s $1.88MM salary.

Peter Bourjos: Lights-out center field defense gave Bourjos a chance to pick up quite a few plate appearances early in his Cardinals tenure, but the club quickly departed from the notion of giving him more regular at-bats in 2014, promoting Randal Grichuk and giving more playing time back to Jon Jay. To this point, Bourjos has had just two plate appearances, though his glove has gotten him into five games. The complete evaporation of playing time makes a significant raise on his $1.65MM salary difficult to envision. Bourjos’ elite glove is strong enough that he could start for a number of teams, but it’s also a luxury and a late-inning weapon for St. Louis, so it’s difficult to envision them moving him into a more financially favorable situation.

Jesse Chavez: Despite the fact that he excelled in the rotation for Oakland last year, Chavez lost his starting spot midseason after the acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and, eventually, Jon Lester. Many, myself included, believed he had a strong case for the rotation heading into 2015, but the final three spots behind holdovers Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir went to Jesse Hahn, Drew Pomeranz and Kendall Graveman. Chavez’s 2014 breakout should indicate that he’ll be a perfectly useful reliever in 2015, but 20-30 starts would’ve done quite a bit more for his earning power.

Everth Cabrera: Cabrera’s fall in San Diego was somewhat remarkable, as he went from leading the NL in steals in 2012 and earning a 2013 All-Star nod to a 50-game suspension for PEDs, a dismal 2014 season and an eventual non-tender. He’s latched on in Baltimore and has been starting at shortstop with J.J. Hardy rehabbing from injury, but a reserve role is in the cards for E-Cab, making it difficult to envision a substantial raise on his $2.4MM salary, which was a slight decline from last year’s $2.45MM in the first place.

Note: This post isn’t including role changes for players who will not be arbitration eligible following the 2015 season. Players such as Carlos Martinez and Tony Cingrani, for example, will certainly see their future arbitration outlooks impacted if their recent role changes are permanent, but it’s difficult enough to know whether or not all of these changes will hold throughout the current season, let alone through the 2016-17 seasons.


Athletics, Jesse Chavez Avoid Arbitration

The A’s and right-hander Jesse Chavez have avoided arbitration for the 2015 season by agreeing to a one-year, $2.15MM contract, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Chavez is a client of Sosnick/Cobbe Sports.

The 31-year-old Chavez enjoyed an excellent breakout season that came as a surprise to many, given his previous struggles out of the bullpen. Injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin forced Chavez into the rotation early in the season despite the fact that he had just two MLB starts prior to the 2014 campaign. However, he responded by pitching to a 3.45 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 42 percent ground-ball rate in 146 innings. Chavez appeared in 32 games — 21 of them starts; he ultimately shifted back to the ‘pen following the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Jon Lester. With that group now out of the picture, Chavez could again find himself making some starts to open the 2015 campaign.

MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Chavez to earn $2.5MM via arbitration in his second time through the process. Chavez currently has four years, 108 days of Major League service time, meaning that he’ll be arbitration eligible for the third and final time next offseason before hitting the open market after the 2016 campaign.


A’s Avoid Arbitration With Jesse Chavez

3:17pm: Chavez's one-year deal is worth $775K, reports MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (Twitter link).

12:27pm: The A's and Jesse Chavez have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal, according to Jane Lee of MLB.com (via Twitter).  Chavez is represented by Sosnick/Cobbe, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.

Terms of the deal are not yet known, but MLBTR's Matt Swartz projected the reliever to earn $600K through arbitration.  Chavez, 30, turned in a 3.92 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 35 relief appearances last season for the Athletics.  Oakland acquired the right-hander from the Blue Jays in August 2012 for cash considerations shortly after Toronto designated him for assignment.

The A's now have seven arbitration eligible players to go.



Athletics Acquire Jesse Chavez

The Athletics announced that they acquired right-hander Jesse Chavez from the Blue Jays for cash considerations. Oakland's 40-man roster is now full.

Chavez, 29, posted an 8.44 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 21 1/3 innings with the Blue Jays this year before getting designated for assignment. He has spent most of the season starting games at Triple-A, where he has a 3.98 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 95 innings. The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks made the Blue Jays an offer for Chavez earlier this year, but Toronto declined.


Blue Jays Designate Jesse Chavez For Assignment

The Blue Jays have designated right-hander Jesse Chavez for assignment, according to the team's website. Toronto recalled Chavez from Triple-A Las Vegas over the weekend and he pitched one scoreless inning in the Blue Jays' 3-1 win over the Athletics on Saturday.

Chavez, 28, has an 8.44 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 21 1/3 innings with the Blue Jays this year. He has spent most of the season starting games at Triple-A, where he has a 3.72 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 77 1/3 innings. The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks made the Blue Jays an offer for Chavez earlier this year, but Toronto declined.


Blue Jays Reject Offer From Japan For Jesse Chavez

The Blue Jays have rejected an offer from the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks for pitcher Jesse Chavez according to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The Hawks offered Toronto $1MM and would have paid the right-hander $3MM over two years. Chavez's agent Paul Cobbe declined to comment.

Chavez, 28, has pitched to a 3.72 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 58 innings across ten Triple-A starts. He owns a 5.36 ERA in 152 2/3 big league relief innings with the Pirates, Braves, and Royals. He's been involved in trades for Akinori Iwamura, Rafael Soriano, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. Toronto removed Chavez from the 40-man roster this offseason.

The Hawks released Brad Penny a few weeks ago and are presumably looking to replace the pitching depth.


Removed From 40-Man: Jesse Chavez, Brian Bixler

We'll keep track of which players are removed from 40-man rosters right here…

  • Right-hander Jesse Chavez cleared waivers and the Blue Jays outrighted him to Triple-A, the team tweeted.
  • The Astros designated Brian Bixler for assignment, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The Astros, who needed roster space because of today's trade, had claimed Bixler from the Nationals last month. The 29-year-old appeared in 79 games for the Nationals in 2011, playing all three outfield positions, shortstop, third base and first base. He posted a .205/.267/.265 line in 94 plate appearances. 

Blue Jays Acquire Ben Francisco

The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Ben Francisco from the Phillies for minor league lefty Frank Gailey, announced the team.  The Jays also designated reliever Jesse Chavez for assignment.

Francisco, 30, hit .244/.340/.364 in 293 plate appearances for the Phillies this year.  As a right-handed hitter he's gotten a disproportionate share of at-bats against lefties in his career, but he hasn't done markedly better against them.  Francisco is set to earn an estimated $1.5MM through arbitration in 2012, and perhaps the Phillies would have cut him loose had they not found a trade partner.  He'll be under team control for 2013 as well if the Blue Jays want him.  With Francisco filling the role of Toronto's fourth outfielder, Rajai Davis may be expendable.

Gailey, 26, posted a 3.41 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and 0.6 HR/9 in 74 relief innings across High and Double-A this year.  A Philadelphia native, Gailey must be excited about the deal.

Chavez, 28, spent most of 2011 with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate.  There he posted a 3.75 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9 in 57 2/3 innings.  The Blue Jays claimed him off waivers from Kansas City in late October.


Blue Jays Claim Jesse Chavez

The Blue Jays announced that they claimed right-hander Jesse Chavez off of waivers from the Royals (Twitter link). The Royals designated Chavez for assignment ten days ago when they claimed Aaron Laffey off of waivers.

The Royals acquired Chavez from the Braves in the summer 2010 trade that sent Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel to Atlanta. The right-hander had two stints with this year's Royals team, but spent most of the season at Triple-A Omaha, where he posted a 3.75 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings of relief work. He provided the Pirates with a solid season of relief in 2009 and hasn't been able to replicate that success at the Major League level since.


Royals Claim Laffey, Designate Chavez

The Royals announced today they've claimed lefty Aaron Laffey off outright waivers from the Yankees and designated reliever Jesse Chavez to create a 40-man roster spot.

Laffey, 26, posted a 3.88 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.18 HR/9, and 48.1% groundball rate in 53 1/3 innings for the Mariners and Yankees this year.  He wasn't any better against left-handed hitters.  Earlier today, Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues wrote that Laffey was an expected victim of the Yankees' upcoming 40-man roster crunch.

Chavez, 28, had joined the Royals at last year's trade deadline in the Rick Ankiel/Kyle Farnsworth deal.  He struggled mightily in the Majors this year but had a 3.75 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9 in 57 2/3 Triple-A innings.  Chavez averaged 94.5 miles per hour on his fastball the last few years, but that dropped a full two miles per hour this year in the Majors.