Athletics left-hander Andrew Chafin is declining his half of a $5.25MM mutual option and will become a free agent, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. He’ll be paid a $500K buyout and return to the open market as one of the more appealing left-handed relievers available in free agency. Oakland has since announced that Chafin declined his portion of the option and that the team exercised its own half (although Chafin’s decision was due first).
The 31-year-old Chafin was nothing short of excellent for both the A’s and the Cubs in 2021, pitching to a combined 1.83 ERA with a 24.1% strikeout rate and a 7.1% walk rate through 68 2/3 innings. Chafin held left-handed hitters to a laughable .170/.250/.233 batting line and was only marginally more vulnerable against right-handed opponents, who mustered just a .196/.247/.304 slash against the southpaw.
Chafin yielded an average exit velocity of just 87.7 mph in 2021, ranking in the 78th percentile of big league hurlers, and Statcast placed him in the 85th percentile or better in hard-hit rate, opponents’ chase rate, expected ERA, expected opponents’ average and expected opponents’ slugging — all based on the quality of the contact he allowed and his K-BB tendencies.
That terrific season marked not only a rebound from a poor showing in 9 2/3 frames during the shortened 2020 season but also a career year on the mound. Chafin was a strong lefty option with the D-backs from 2015-19, pitching to a combined 3.55 ERA in 251 innings of relief, but the 2021 campaign is far and away the best work of his career to date.
Given the relatively thin market for left-handed relievers and the outstanding work he delivered this season, Chafin should command interest on multi-year deals from contending clubs looking to add some southpaw firepower to the back of their relief corps.