The New York Mets sealed the deal on a blockbuster deal yesterday, and the New York Yankees countered with the late-night signing of 15 game-winner, right-hander Jhoulys Chacin. On the surface, this might seem like a great counter, but it isn’t. Chacin, for the most part, is a washed-up once-dominant starting pitcher. His best career year was in 2018, but he has been an in the cellar pitcher for three teams for the last two years. This is why the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal to see if he has any promise.
When introduced to the New York Mets as its new owner, Steve Cohen said that he wanted to make the Mets New York’s team and a World Series contender. The New billionaire financier that has taken over the team had vowed to make the team better and wouldn’t be afraid to make the moves to make that happen. Yesterday he kept his word and made two major improvements in the team with the blockbuster deal that brought the best shortstop in baseball to the team in Francisco Lindor, once a Yankee target. The deal also included Carlos Carrasco, a premium mid-level starting pitcher, both from the Cleveland Indians.
I am sure that the New York Yankees move was not to counter that deal, and most likely was in the works before the Mets deal. But it is another case of the Yankees doing far less than they should be doing to improve a team with many needs. The Yankees have brought back to pitchers that they previously dumped, Adam Warren and Nester Cortes Jr. They now bring a once-great pitcher that has fallen apart in the last two seasons. Chacin with the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, and Minnesota Twins has a career record of 78-87 with an ERA of 4.04. This past year he was 1-0 with an elevated ERA of 7.20. In 2019Â he was 3-12 with an ERA of 6.01 with theÂ Brewers and Red Sox.
In the last two years, Chacin’s big problem is that he is another pitcher that gives up home runs and lots of them. While increased flyballs will lead to increased home runs, the home run rate can fluctuate wildly. ChacÃn was tied for the 8th highest HR/FB rate among pitchers with at least 100 innings last season, which should regress a bit in future seasons. Balls contained within the fences also found holes against Chacin. He will have to figure that out before the Yankees even allowing him to pitch at Yankees Stadium.
Meanwhile, with the DJ LeMahieu negotiations stalled, everything else is basically on hold. The team’s true needs, a good mid-level starter, and bolstering the once-great bullpen sit unaddressed. The New York Yankee brass has said that they are “satisfied” with the starting rotation, but the fact is they need at least one premium type starter that they can count on behind Gerrit Cole. The Yankees will get Domingo German back at the start of the season. He was the Yankee’s best starter in 2019. Sometime before the All-Star break, they will also get Luis Severino back in the fold. Although both of these additions are good news, the Yankees have no idea how they will pitch after not pitching for so long. German hasn’t pitched in a year and has gotten roughed up in Winter ball. Severino hasn’t pitched during the last two years while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
The Yankee bullpen has needs too. They lost Tommy Kahnle to the Los Angeles Dodgers and have no way of knowing if Adam Ottavino can bounce back from two subpar seasons. They need a solid premium type reliever to replace Kahnle. Cortes Jr., Warren, or the newly hired Chacin is that pitcher.
On Jhoulys Chacin’s part, it’s been an exciting, happy week for him, culminating in signing with the New York Yankees on Thursday. Just one day earlier, the 32-year-old Venezuelan-born Chacin became a naturalized U.S. citizen Wednesday. He turned 33 on Thursday. If he advances to the Major League team, you will want to know his name is pronounced Jo-lease Sha-seen. There is no way of telling what general manager Brian Cashman knows; he could be another gem in the rough, as improbable as that seems.