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Andrew Chafin declines mutual option with A’s, becomes free agent

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A’s picked up their half of lefty’s option, but he’ll test the open market

San Diego Padres v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s were willing to keep Andrew Chafin in their bullpen next year, but the lefty reliever will test the open market.

The two sides had a mutual option for 2022 and the A’s exercised their half, but Chafin declined it and will become a free agent. The option would have paid him a $5.25 million salary.

Oakland acquired Chafin from the Cubs at the trade deadline, and the veteran setup man did fantastic work for them the rest of the season. He appeared in 28 games down the stretch and was scoreless in 24 of them, notching five saves and five holds while blowing only two chances.

  • Chafin, 2021 OAK: 1.53 ERA, 29⅓ ip, 27 Ks, 7 BB, 3 HR, 3.37 FIP, .291 xwOBA

Unfortunately that superb performance wasn’t enough to single-handedly fix the A’s struggling bullpen, as the club still piled up a mountain of blown saves over the final several weeks of the season to cost themselves a possible playoff berth. But Chafin himself was excellent and helped as much as he could, serving as a perfect fit both on and off the field — a quality lefty reliever in the late innings, and a generally fun dude with a spectacular mustache.

The $5.25 million salary that Chafin just declined would have been the highest of his career, which gives an idea of how marvelous a season he had. He was already enjoying a great campaign with Chicago before coming to Oakland, and his sparkling overall numbers should allow him to command a lucrative multi-year deal this winter.

  • Chafin, 2021 MLB: 1.83 ERA, 68⅔ ip, 64 Ks, 19 BB, 4 HR, 2.98 FIP, .267 xwOBA

While 2021 was his best showing yet, he’s been strong in five of the past seven seasons, so he’s got the track record to back up his recent success. He’s converted an amazing 91.8% of his save/hold chances during his career.

It’s not impossible that Chafin could still re-sign with the A’s, but it seems unlikely given that he’ll have plenty of suitors and Oakland appears to be in cost-cutting mode lately. He’d still be a perfect fit if he were to stick around. Either way they’ll need to restock their bullpen this winter, as Jake Diekman, Yusmeiro Petit, and Sergio Romo are also free agents — Diekman had a contract option for 2022 but it was declined by the team.