The Twins have reached an agreement to sign free-agent right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, according to Robert Murray. Chacin, who is represented by GSE Worldwide, will join the team on a minor league contract with an invite to big league camp, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman confirms. Per Daniel Alvarez of El Extrabase, Chacin will earn $1.6MM with an additional $1.5MM in incentives if he makes the Major League team.
Although Chacin, 32, is coming off a dreadful season that resulted in his release from the Brewers, he is only a year removed from a solid 2018 season in which he anchored the Milwaukee rotation. And while a minor league deal doesn’t guarantee anything, Chacin seems like a solid bet to crack the Twins’ opening day roster. The Minnesota club has made it known that they set out this offseason to bolster the rotation, but after striking out on top-tier arms like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Madison Bumgarner, they’ve had to settle for the more modest combination of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey.
But there’s no way around the fact that Chacin ranked as one of the worst starters in baseball last year. He only managed a 6.01 overall ERA, and a brief tryout with the Red Sox didn’t yield much better results than his Brewers tenure. For what it’s worth, he did see an uptick in his strikeouts during his stint in Boston: in 14 2/3 innings, he struck out 21 batters, good for an average of 12.9 K/9. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Chacin may have been one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball when it came to home runs, which account for much of his dropoff from 2018 to 2019. Indeed, among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched, Chacin’s 21% HR/FB rate ranked as the eighth-highest, meaning that we might expect some of those home runs to turn into mere flyouts next year.
Despite the ugly on-field results, Chacin’s slider still graded as a solidly positive offering last year, and it’s the most important pitch in Chacin’s arsenal: its increased usage coincided with his 2018 breakout. Opponents did most of their damage against his sinker and four-seam fastball, so it should come as no surprise that Chacin has decreased his usage of those pitches each of the last two years. If he can rediscover his 2018 form, expect Chacin to push hard for a spot at the back end of the Minnesota rotation, which will be missing the suspended Michael Pineda for some time and currently has the inexperienced combination of Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer penciled in to round out the starting staff.