The Brewers announced today that they have released righty Jhoulys Chacin. He had recently been designated for assignment.
Given that we’re past the point on the calendar when trades are permissible, this outcome was all but inevitable. There was no reason to attempt outrighting him, since the veteran could have elected free agency without sacrificing the remainder of the $6MM owed to him this season.
It’s hard to imagine a rival club taking on that obligation for a hurler who hasn’t been in top form, particularly since Chacin has been on the injured list with an oblique injury. Whether or not he has cleared release waivers isn’t entirely clear from the club’s announcement. Barring a surprise development, he’ll hit the open market.
Chacin, 31, has fallen well shy of the standard he set in the prior two campaigns, over which he threw 373 innings of 3.69 ERA ball (handily outperforming his peripherals in the process). Through 88 2/3 frames over 19 starts in 2019, Chacin has limped to a 5.79 ERA. Fielding-independent ERA estimators didn’t see much cause to blame bad bounces, grading him out at 5.68 (FIP), 5.23 (xFIP), and 5.13 (SIERA).
Even more than he did last year, Chacin leaned hard on his slider, throwing it just over half the time. Doing so likely helped him to a career-high 8.1 K/9 strikeout rate, though Chacin still mustered only a cumulative 7.8% swinging-strike rate.
The biggest problem was with the long ball. He allowed 1.93 per nine on an 18.3% HR/GB rate, both of which are about double the levels he maintained last year. Batters put the ball in the air against him more than ever (38.1%) and did so at a much greater launch angle (16.5 degrees vs. previous high of 11.5). Though Chacin was able to generate a large quantity of harmless infield pops (18.3%), too many balls ended up in the bleachers.
It’s certainly still possible that a team will decide to add Chacin to provide some depth down the stretch. If he ends up making it back to the majors after signing elsewhere, he’ll play at the league-minimum rate for his new club, partially offsetting the cash still owed to him by the Brewers.