On Wednesday afternoon, it was revealed that the Milwaukee Brewers have signed right hander Jhoulys Chacin to a two year, $16 million deal. This is a bad idea.
This is the first multi-year deal the Brewers have given out this offseason. And it went to Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin was the Opening Day starter for the San Diego Padres in 2017 although that was mostly due to a lack of quality pitching on that team. I mean, Junior Guerra was the Brewers starter on Opening Day this year, too.
Chacin posted a 3.89 ERA this past season over 180 innings although his 4.26 FIP suggests he was lucky to have that low of an ERA. He put up these numbers in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in all of baseball. He was phenomenal at Petco Park, with a 1.79 ERA. But anywhere else, he was a major liability, posting a 6.53 ERA in the same amount of starts but 20 less innings.
His bad numbers on the road won’t lead anyone to believe he’ll have any success at the hitter’s paradise that is Miller Park. He’ll likely put together short starts with a high ERA and that is the exact opposite of what the Milwaukee Brewers need.
But his numbers from this past season aren’t the only reason that signing Chacin is a bad idea. There are some glaring and chronic issues.
Lack of Consistency
Chacin’s career has had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. In his first full year in the rotation in 2011, he put up great numbers for the first half. He fell off a bit in the second half due to inconsistent mechanics and led the league in walks. But, overall he finished with a 3.62 ERA, which is decent but his peripherals weren’t that great.
In 2012, he only made 14 starts due to injury and limped to a 4.43 ERA with a 5.15 FIP and a 1.62 WHIP, which is awful. He also allowed 10.4 H/9 while giving up 4.2 BB/9 during this injury shortened season.
In 2013, he bounced back with a 3.47 ERA over 31 starts in a pretty successful season. But in 2014 he regressed again, up to a 5.40 ERA and a 1-7 record. Noticing a trend here?
In 2015 he spent most of his time in Triple-A and made a few starts with the Arizona Diamondbacks but went back to a sub-4.00 ERA once again. The next year, he regressed to an ERA above 4.00 in a swingman role in Los Angeles switching between the rotation and the bullpen. In 2017, he put together a good season overall and just in time to land a multi year contract.
Every time that Chacin has put together a good season, he follows it up with a terrible one. Every single time. And he’s coming off of a good year. You know what that means? 2018 will not be a productive season for Chacin and the Milwaukee Brewers are going to be the ones to witness it.
Chacin proves to be very injury prone, dealing with a fair amount during his career. In 2012 he missed over half the season with a pectoral injury. In 2014, he started the season on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. He battled through numerous injuries during that 2014 season which had to be cut short.
He’s frequently will push back starts due to tightness in his back and other issues in the past. Every time he’s had an injury, it’s correlated to a bad season. He had swelling in his pitching hand that bothered him this year.
David Stearns has said he’s looking for innings this offseason but Chacin has only thrown 150+ innings three times in his nine year career. Injuries and ineffectiveness have cut those other seasons short of that mark.
Chacin is going to get $8 million a season for the next two years. Everything above is what the Milwaukee Brewers are paying for. An inconsistent, injury prone back end starter that can never put two good seasons together in a row. That is what this money is going for.
David Stearns certainly seems opposed to the high prices on the market for starting pitching. But at some point that price will need to be paid because this acquisition should leave a bad taste in the mouths of Brewers fans.
With Chacin now in the picture, Gallardo seems like a longshot for the rotation. He’s now at the fifth spot on the depth chart and that could change rather quickly. If the Brewers add a top of the line starter as is anticipated, Gallardo is out of the rotation and Chacin is the fifth starter.
However, if this is the final addition made to the starting rotation, Brewers fans have every right to be upset. Chacin is inconsistent and injury prone and if he’s the one big addition that Stearns was looking all winter for, this will be a rough wait for Jimmy Nelson to return. The only bright side is that the Crew isn’t dealing with another Matt Garza type contract.
Jhoulys Chacin just cannot be the big pitching acquisition for the Milwaukee Brewers this offseason. There has to be something else. This is just disappointing otherwise. He’s a decent depth piece. But for this much money he needs to be good. Because this is a dumb signing if a prospect could go out there and do better than Chacin for a fraction of the cost.