The Minnesota Twins have reportedly add to their stable of potential end-of-the-rotation options once again.
According to a smattering of reports, the Twins have inked veteran starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin to a minor-league deal. It was first reported as close by Jon Heyman, confirmed as a done deal by Robert Murray, and clarified as a minor-league deal by Heyman, who also suggests that Chacin has a real shot at cracking the rotation.
Chacin split last season between the Milwaukee Brewers and Boston Red Sox and struggled mightily, ultimately being released by the Brewers in August after putting up a 5.79 ERA in 88 2⁄3 innings with a sky-high WHIP of 1.56. He started five games for the Sox late in the year but had even worse results in Boston.
However, going back just two years, Chacin was a legitimately useful rotation piece for a 96-win, first-place Brewers squad in 2018. He threw 192 2⁄3 innings en route to 15 wins and a 3.50 ERA and struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings. Despite the awful results in 2019, Chacin actually logged his best strikeout-per-nine-innings mark since an abbreviated rookie season at 8.8, so there clearly is still the ability to strike batters out with a nasty slider.
Taking the three years prior to 2019, Chacin averaged 172 innings per season with an even 4.00 ERA across stops with Atlanta, the Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, and Milwaukee. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) mark of 4.11 was right in line with that, and other than his spike in 2019, his strikeout rate has been fairly consistent.
As far as Chacin’s fit with the Twins, he will be battling for an end-of-the-rotation spot. The top three spots are occupied by Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey. Until Rich Hill and Michael Pineda are able to return due to recovery from injury and suspension, respectively, the final two spots are up for grabs from a group that includes Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, and now Chacin.
It seems likely that the Twins plan to rotate through several players at the end of the rotation, but expect Chacin to get an opportunity to lock down the No. 4 spot. We don’t yet know the details of the deal and whether or not he’ll have any opt-outs or anything like that, but his arrival will, at the very least, make the road to head north a bit more difficult for the trio of Dobnak, Smeltzer and Thorpe.
This is a no-risk move with a potentially decent reward. If Chacin still has bite on his slider and pitching coach Wes Johnson can get more of 2018 Chacin than the 2019 version, the Twins will have made yet another savvy move with a steady innings-eater that can help bridge the gap to Hill and Pineda.