The MLB trade deadline is coming at the end of the week, and the Oakland A’s got started a few days early with their first trade. On Monday night they acquired relief pitcher Andrew Chafin from the Chicago Cubs, and you can click here for all the details.
First impression? Chafin is a perfect fit for the A’s, both on and off the field.
In baseball terms, Oakland entered trade season with two pressing needs to address. Their priority was bullpen help, and they could also use another productive bat in their lineup. Getting more specific on the bullpen, they needed another reliable late-inning arm because their incumbent crew was being overworked, and it would also help if they could find another lefty — Jake Diekman has the splits of a righty pitcher, and recent scrap-heap pickup Sam Moll is the second southpaw.
Chafin checks all those boxes. He has a half-decade of almost uninterrupted success as a setup man for two different clubs, only pausing last summer due to an injury that isn’t worrisome moving forward (sprained finger). For his career he’s converted 99 holds and two saves while blowing only eight leads, which is phenomenal, and all the other metrics love him (ERA, FIP, WPA, Statcast, inherited runners, and so on). You won’t find a better track record at this price range.
- Chafin, 2021: 2.06 ERA, 39⅓ ip, 37 Ks, 12 BB, 1 HR, 21 hits, 2.67 FIP, .249 xwOBA
He’s also a lefty, who can retire lefty batters like you’d expect. But he can hold his own against righties too, and this year he’s dominating hitters in both batter’s boxes. The late-inning crew now has multiple weapons from both sides.
- Closer: Lou Trivino (righty)
- Righty setup: Yusmeiro Petit, Sergio Romo
- Lefty setup: Andrew Chafin, Jake Diekman
It remains to be seen if Oakland will make further additions to the bullpen, but for now they got what they needed most in a new late-inning lefty. And it’s as good of one as we could have hoped for, considering their nonexistent budget and thin prospect capital.
But that’s only half the story. A’s fans will love Chafin on the field if he keeps pitching like he always has, but off the field it should only take until the end of this article to be excited that he’s in Oakland’s clubhouse.
What better way to get a first impression than a few minutes mic’d up during batting practice?
Hot Take: Visually, we’re looking at a cross between Seth Rogen and Cole Irvin, but with the voice of Owen Wilson, the youthful enthusiasm of Chris Pratt’s TV character Andy Dwyer, and (as you’ll see in the next clip) the sense of humor of Willie Nelson.
Here’s four minutes of Chafin telling Dad jokes with his teammates. All while wearing a brilliant shirt that says “Failed Starter.”
Why don’t matches play baseball? One strike and they’re out!
Chafin allowed a run on May 7, then pitched scoreless ball for over two months straight, spanning 24⅓ innings over 26 appearances. On Saturday he finally snapped that streak by allowing three runs to the D’Backs, and then two days later he was traded to Oakland, eliciting this response from the lefty.
Ross said Chafin quipped: "One bad outing and I get traded?"— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 27, 2021
"This guy's a culture changer," said the manager, who raved about what the lefty brought to the Cubs and will bring to the A's.
He spent less than one full calendar year with the Cubs, as they only picked him up last August during the short pandemic season, but he wasted no time endearing himself to Chicago fans at the beginning of this summer.
Hey @cubs fans! I’m looking to buy an old “beater” car for like 2k to drive around the city cuz my truck is way too big for the narrow streets here. Must be manual transmission! Haha cut me a good deal and we can mix in free tickets throughout the season!!— andrew chafin (@BigCountry1739) April 10, 2021
That story ended with Chafin finding a pretty nice ride!
So what do you say, Athletics Nation? The A’s found exactly the player they needed, and they got him within their price range. On top of being a perfect roster fit and a good player, he also appears to be fun person to add to a clubhouse full of fun people. And we haven’t even talked about that mustache yet.
Welcome to Oakland, Andrew!