An old Oakland A’s star is back in the majors, nearly a decade after retiring as a player.
The New York Mets are hiring Eric Chavez to be their new hitting coach, reports insider Mark Feinsand. The move has not yet been officially announced by the team.
The Mets are rebuilding their coaching staff this winter, after bringing on a new manager in Buck Showalter. Although MLB player transactions are prohibited during the league’s current lockout, clubs can still hire coaches since they aren’t part of the Players Association.
This will be Chavez’s first time coaching in the majors, but he’s been active in the sport since hanging up his spikes in 2014. Off the field he’s spent time as a scout for the Yankees, a color commentator on A’s television broadcasts, and a special assistant in the Angels front office. While with the Halos he took a brief interim stint as the manager of Triple-A Salt Lake in 2018, and that winter he showed further interest in the dugout by interviewing for multiple MLB skipper jobs.
Of course, Oakland fans know Chavez best for the 13 seasons he played with the A’s from 1998-2010. During his prime he helped lead the team to five playoff berths, and he received MVP votes in four straight years. His defense earned him six Gold Gloves, but he also made quite an impact with his bat, averaging 28 homers and a 122 wRC+ from 2000-06. Unfortunately injuries set in after that and limited him beyond age 30, and he finished off his career with a couple summers on the Yankees and D’Backs.
- Chavez, OAK: .267/.343/.478, 113 wRC+, 230 HR, 1,276 hits, 10.5% BB, 17.1% Ks
His lengthy and productive tenure cemented him in the club’s record books, and he ranks high in several categories in Oakland history (dating back to 1968).
- 230 homers, 4th (McGwire, Jackson, Canseco)
- 282 doubles, 2nd (Rickey)
- 787 RBI, 4th (McGwire, Canseco, Bando)
- 5,405 plate appearances, 5th (Rickey, Bando, Campaneris, McGwire)
- 35.0 bWAR, 6th (Rickey, Bando, Jackson, McGwire, Campaneris)
Notes: The fWAR list is the same top six hitters as bWAR, in the same order. In plate appearances, Chavez trails McGwire by only four.
Chavez holds a couple other distinctions. The $66 million contract extension he signed in 2004 is still the biggest deal ever given out by the A’s in their franchise history, even as salaries have exploded over the last couple decades. However, despite that financial recognition, he’s one of the five best position players in MLB history to never be named an All-Star, a ridiculous snub in hindsight.
Put it all together, and the 44-year-old brings impressive credentials from 17 seasons as a quality hitter in the majors. Now he’ll get the chance to impart his wisdom on the next generation, including former A’s Mark Canha and Starling Marte, who both signed with New York this winter.
But wait! There’s one more fantastic detail to this story. Two weeks ago the Yankees announced that Chavez would be their assistant hitting coach, so he bailed on that job to take the Mets position, which is fun for two reasons. First, screw the Yankees, and enjoy the rare occasion that they don’t get everything they want. Second, by moving from assistant up to lead hitting coach, technically Chavez got a promotion after less than a month on the job and without ever actually working with a player — at this rate, he could be a manager by February.
Congrats to Chavy on his new gig! Hopefully one his players someday gifts him a Silver Slugger award as a thank you, like he did with one of his Gold Gloves for his infield coach Ron Washington years ago. Let’s conclude below with a perfectly on-brand quote from a hitter who made his name during the early days of Moneyball, and who was productive despite a modest .268 career average.
“There’s certain things that I thought were valuable that are not valuable, like batting average. We’re trying to get some of that old thinking out of players’ heads..”— John Flanigan (@jflan816) January 6, 2022
- New Mets hitting coach Eric Chavez to the Athletic