Jesse Chavez's departure was an inevitability of the 2015 offseason. With a logjam at on the mound and a single season left on Chavez's contract, his move was no surprise. Still, this move hurts a little. Jesse was a fixture during our three year playoff streak and he is an emblem of the A's way.
Before Jesse came to the A's, he was mildly terrible. Drafted in the 42nd round of the 2002 MLB Draft, not much was expected of the guy. Imaginary scouts I'm making up for this post doubted his ability to handle the rigors of a major league season at a rail thin 160 pounds, twenty percent of which is chewing tobacco. Chavez bounced around the league before making his way to the A's in 2012, traded for cash considerations. On a side note, if anyone needs a novelty jersey, Cash Considerations wouldn't be a horrible name to get on the back. That trade chip got us Chavez and All-Star Stephen Vogt.
So what happened when Chavez got to the A's? He continued to suck, giving up 7 earned runs in just 3.1 innings to close out the year. But then something clicked. Chavez was way better in 2013. He started the year making five starts in Sacramento before being permanently called to the A's pen. He was decent in relief, pitching to a 3.92 ERA. His value was derived from his Swiss army knife nature, sometimes pitching in high leverage spots, sometimes pitching long relief, always doing what was asked of him and never complaining.
Along comes 2014 and the A's need a starting pitcher. Hey Jesse, when was the last time you started a big league game? Two years ago? Screw it. You're in. And he was marvelous, pitching like a damn ace for the first three months of the year. Chavez was eventually moved to the pen as his stuff began to wane and the Jason Hammel debacle began (0 comments about Hammel please). Chavez had to be a little miffed to lose his gig, but when the A's needed a starting pitcher in 2015 there was Chavez again, pitching like a damn stud in spite of not making the rotation in favor of lefty/chair nemesis Drew Pomeranz.
And that's the reason I loved him so much. He was such an A, reminiscent of Dallas Braden. Chavez could barely hang on a 25 man roster prior to coming to the A's who turned around and made him a quality pitcher. No matter that he pitched a mere 87 innings the year before becoming a starter. Go pitch like a damn ace till your arm is about to fall off. Jesse was gifted absolutely nothing but that didn't stop him from being a crucial part of two playoff teams. I do my best to avoid guessing players' personalities since they don't return my calls when I ask them to hangout and I don't really know them, but I'll make an exception here. Jesse Chavez was a damn warrior for the A's, the toughest player this team has seen in years and just a perfect Oakland player. Did I mention he somehow broke a rib in 2015? I bet he broke it saving some kids from a burning bus and didn't tell anyone. Seriously, the A's have no idea how he broke it.
"We're not really sure [how it happened], we think maybe on the ball that hit him on the hip the other day, maybe trying to brace himself on that," A's manager Bob Melvin said before Tuesday night's game. "We're not really sure."
Yup Bob, I bet it was the ball that hit him on the hip. If I broke my rib, you can bet I'd sob like a toddler till an ambulance drove me to a hospital hopped up on Morphine. Not Jesse Chavez.
The A's success has always been dictated by their ability get value from unexpected places and Chavez might earn the crown for most surprising. Prior to coming to the A's, Chavez's career best in fWAR was -0.2. With the A's from 2013-2015 he put up .7, 1.3, and 2.3 fWAR respectively which doesn't tell the full story of his versatility or impact. Based on track record he had no business being a quality pitcher and yet he immediately filled huge positions of need.
So here's to you, Jesse. I wish you nothing but success in Toronto, except when you play the A's, and a little extra success against the Angels. I hope you get paid, hope you make the playoffs, and I hope you stay awesome.