38. RHP Jhoulys Chacin
Next up is another successful free agent pitcher signing in Jhoulys Chacin, coming in at number 38 on our list.
In the winter prior to the 2018 season, the Milwaukee Brewers signed veteran starter Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year contract. He had a strong season with San Diego the year before, posting a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts. However, throughout his career, Chacin has been up and down, showing promise, but not being able to consistently show it.
Chacin ended up being a very important piece of this Brewers franchise.
2018: 2.6 WAR
2019: 0.1 WAR
Total WAR: 2.7
The 2018 season was a remarkable one for Chacin. He never misses a start, making 35 regular season appearances, including starting Game 163 against the Cubs for the division title. Chacin posted a 3.50 ERA in 192.2 IP that year and emerged as the ace of the staff. As the rest of the 2018 rotation battled injuries and ineffectiveness, Chacin was the lone consistent bright spot.
Many Brewers fans were hoping for one of the big free agent aces on the market that winter, with Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish available, but Chacin was the one GM David Stearns chose and he ended up with the best 2018 season of all those free agent pitchers.
Chacin was trusted in some big games in the 2018 postseason, starting Game 2 of the NLDS, which the Brewers won 4-0 over the Rockies en route to a sweep of Colorado. He started Game 3 of the NLCS out in Los Angeles, which the Brewers also won 4-0 after he went 5.1 IP of scoreless baseball. Of course, he also started the very important Game 7 in that series, which, although the Brewers lost, it was hardly on his performance alone.
Chacin entered 2019 as the staff ace and was the easy choice to be the Crew’s Opening Day starter. However, the recent curse of the Crew’s Opening Day starters continued with possibly their worst cursed season yet. Chacin posted just 0.1 WAR in 2019 with a 3-10 record, a 5.79 ERA in just 19 starts, and 19 home runs allowed in just 88.2 IP with the Crew. He allowed only 18 home runs in the 192.2 IP the season before.
In the midst of that rough stretch this year, Chacin was injured, and then designated for assignment before he was ready to return. He became a free agent and signed with the Boston Red Sox to finish the season.
With his two-year, $15.5MM contract complete, it’ll go down as one of the most successful Brewers free agent signs in recent memory. Despite the struggles in 2019, Chacin provided plenty of surplus value over his $8MM salary in 2018, which more than made up for the underperformance of his 2019 season.
Despite only one good season with the Brewers, he was such an important piece of that 2018 squad that made it to within a game of the World Series that he lands at No. 38 on our list.
Next up: a frustrating, yet talented middle infielder.