Just when we though Mike Hazen was done, what with pitchers and catchers reporting next week, news of an unexpected signing broke this afternoon. Left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin will be returning to the Diamondbacks on a one-year contract, with a club option for the 2024 season. The deal is worth $5.5 million for this year, with the option coming in at $7.5 million next year; alternatively, there’s a $750,000 buyout. Chafin can also earn up to a million dollars in bonuses. He spent his first seven seasons with the D-backs, before being dealt to the Cubs at the (delayed) trade deadline in 2020. He stayed there the following year, then pitched in Detroit for 2022.
Over his nine-year career, and just over 400 innings of work, Chafin has an ERA+ of 132 (ERA 3.23) with a K:BB ration of 422:156, and a FIP almost exactly in line with the ERA of 3.17. Last season with the Tigers, his ERA+ was also close to the career number at 134 (ERA 2.83), as was his FIP of 3.06. Andrew is currently only 32 years old, so shouldn’t be too much of a candidate for his arm to fall off. Indeed, since the start of 2017, no pitcher has appeared in more games than Chafin’s 375. His ERA+ of 140 ranks him in the top 20% of those relievers to have thrown at least two hundred innings over that time.
The potential two-year, $12.75m deal this represents is considerably below the $18m Chafin was projected for by MLB Trade Rumors, but does also mean another increase in the team’s payroll for this season. It probably pushes the team north of $120 million in terms of salary, which represents about a 30% increase over the $93 million at which they went into Opening Day last year. The signing gives Arizona another strong left-handed option out of their bullpen, alongside All-Star Joe Mantiply and Kyle Nelson, though does mean one fewer spot will be available for Opening Day. As well as those three, Mark Melancon, Kevin Ginkel and Scott McGough look likely as we hit spring, with perhaps two spots to be decided.