At this point, I’m entirely convinced that Jesse Chavez has in his possession some type of mystical amulet that grants him a level of invulnerability as far as roster decisions go. Following an off-season rich in player movement, Chavez defied logic to avoid being designated for assignment and remain on the 40-man roster despite numerous additions that should of made him a roster casualty. This distinction has transformed Chavez, from an otherwise nondescript undersized right-handed pitcher to some form of a running joke within the Athletics fanbase. Suddenly, he has become the punchline to jokes revolving around the apocalypse and cockroaches.
After being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays at the tail end of the 2012 season, Chavez appeared in a handful of games with A’s during the final month. The results were anything but pretty. Tossing just 3 1/3 innings, he allowed 9 hits and 7 earned runs in mainly mop-up duty and was relegated to the very back end of the bullpen aside the likes of Jeremy Accardo and Tyson Ross. With so much at stake, Chavez and company were locked away only to be used in case of emergency and were predictably left off the playoff roster.
Before the small sample police come to take me away; please note that Chavez wasn’t exactly lights out in Toronto or Triple-A either. With the Blue Jays he posted a strong rate of 11.4 strikeouts per 9 innings, but was otherwise hittable as evident by his 8.44 ERA and 5.86 FIP. During his time in the minors with Las Vegas and Sacramento, Chavez was used extensively as a starter after appearing almost exclusively over parts of 5 seasons in the Majors as a reliever. To his credit, he was much more effective in the role and finished with an accumulated 3.77 ERA and 3.42 FIP between the two teams.
In the best of scenarios, Chavez provides Oakland with a versatile pitcher who can start or relieve making him suitable for a long reliever role at the big league level and a spot starter if the opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately for the California native, he finds himself pretty far down the totem pole as far as the talented Oakland staff is constructed. With trusted arms such as Travis Blackley and Evan Scribner ahead of him for the open vacancy in the pen, it will be up to Chavez to make his mark this spring in an attempt to leapfrog the competition.
In all likelihood, he remains destined for a return to Sacramento to bide his time until his services are needed with the big club. As a four-pitch pitcher, he has the arsenal to continue his progression in the starters role and build upon his 2012 season. Whether this eventually paves the way for his return to Oakland and vindicates his position on the 40-man roster is yet to be seen.
Until his number is called expect Jesse Chavez to continue flying safely under the radar, inconceivably out of harms away and immune to the dreaded pink slip.
At least for now.