About 12 hours after the Brad Hand blockbuster was announced, the Cubs decided to join in on the fun, and get themselves some reinforcements for their bullpen as well. Jesse Chavez will be joining the Chicago Cubs while the Rangers will acquire minor league lefty Tyler Thomas. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report.
Chavez is a known commodity. At 34 years old, the swingman has seen major league action in parts of 11 seasons, and has been reasonably effective for the rebuilding Rangers in 2018, posting a decent 3.51 ERA over 56.1 innings pitched. While his FIP of 4.32 suggests that Chavez has been the beneficiary of a bit of good fortune, his sterling 1.9 walks allowed per nine innings draws some intrigue.
For the time being, I would imagine Chavez will replace James Norwood in the bullpen, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Brian Duensing landed on the market over the next few weeks, as he has struggled immensely in 2018 posting a 6.59 ERA over 27.1 innings with a 5.79 FIP that doesn’t inspire much more hope. Chavez is a solid fit for the Cubs as he can start if necessary, has the ability to go multiple innings out of the pen, and while he’s no All-Star, he has typically done a nice job limiting the damage when he’s on the mound. It seems as though the Cubs will be on the hook for what’s left of his $1 million contract.On Thursday, the @Cubs nabbed reliever Jesse Chavez from the @Rangers in exchange for left-handed minor-league pitcher Tyler Thomas.Click To Tweet
As for the Rangers return, Tyler Thomas was a seventh round pick back in 2017 who has a very intriguing profile. He’s a little guy who won’t overpower hitters, as he typically sits in the low-90’s, but he is known for his deceptive delivery which has done a solid job fooling pitchers since he has gone pro. He boasts a pair of solid secondaries as well, with a curve and a change, both sitting in the upper 70’s. He had been pitching in Class A South Bend, finding success as a starter with a 2.88 ERA over 75 innings.
Looking at his question marks, scouts are concerned about the size, but based on his athleticism, I don’t see it posing a huge issue. I am a bit uncertain about his control. While he has done a phenomenal job limiting walks in 2018, with a 1.9 BB/9, last season he posted a concerning 6.1 (albeit over a smaller sample size). While I am encouraged that his actual ability has been reflected this season, as opposed to last season, it’s something to keep an eye on.
While Thomas has found success in the rotation, I see him as a reliever long-term, based on the fact that the “deception effect” could wear off as he faces more advanced hitters over three to four cycles through the line-up. Three solid pitches, deception and control over one to two frames, however, could make him a very interesting set-up type. Nevertheless, based on his performance, it’s way too early to write him off as a potential starter, which places his ceiling at a solid mid to back-end guy, probably slotting fourth.
While he’s not a slam dunk, can’t miss prospect, he’s certainly a guy who is very interesting and has a chance to make an impact at the major league level under everyone’s noses. He had never been on my radar prior to the trade, but is certainly a guy who I will keep close tabs on as his career progresses.
While this is a win-win deal as it helps the Cubs to fortify the middle relief/swing section of the pen that has been a revolving door, while giving the Rangers something in return for a swing man who would have otherwise left in free agency this fall, I give a slight edge to the Rangers based on the fact that Chavez was a non-roster invitee who was flipped to acquire a young pitcher with legitimate major league upside.