With Jack Cust out and Eric Chavez in, can the A’s finally see some offensive production out of the designated-hitter position?
Cust has led the A’s in homers for the past three seasons, and Chavez has not done much since his 2006 season (.241, 22 HR, 72 RBIs). So why would Billy Beane and the rest of the A’s front office release a slugger like Cust, and place so much faith in a player who has only played in 121 games over the last three seasons?
Well, the A’s took a small calculated risk when they decided to designate Cust for assignment. Cust, who will be making a little over $2 million this season if he clears waivers and accepts Triple-A assingment, will probably remain as insurance for Chavez. There’s not much of a market left for a player like Cust (primarily a DH) especially since his defense could be a liability for most teams. If Cust does not accept the A’s offer of Triple-A assingment, Cust will also walk away from his salary and will be deemed a free agent.
The question now becomes, did the A’s make the right choice?
Do the A’s really believe Chavez can handle the everyday role of DH? Well, it puts less strain on his body, but there is a bit of a learning curve as well. Chavez, who made the transition from third to firstbase during the spring, is used to playing the field and is not accustomed to simply waiting around for his at-bat.
After the first two games of the season, Chavez has looked healthy. Chavez went 1-for-5 last night with a single, but is 1-for-9 this season. Notoriously a slow starter, Chavez, if healthy should be able to get his timing down as the season progresses. Personally, I’m excited to see Chavez healthy and out there playing. He’s in his last year of his contract (six-years, $66 million) and is a huge fan favorite; the crowd goes seemingly wild whenever he steps into the batter’s box.
I’ve never been a big fan of Cust anyway. He struggled this spring (20 K’s in 21 games) and is too much of a liability for the A’s. He really can’t play defense, and his overall stats have been declining each year. In the event Chavez does get hurt or doesn’t perform at a high level, Cust could come back as DH.