A’s swap Chavez for Blue Jays’ Hendriks
It was pretty evident that right-hander Jesse Chavez, who has gone back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen for the Oakland Athletics, was going to be traded with the A’s acquisition of free agent lefty Rick Hill.
Hill signed a one-year $6 million deal with the A’s and they designated right-hander A.J. Griffin for assignment to make room to add Hill to the 40-man roster. The deal with Hill was dependent upon a physical and both the deal and move of Griffin were made official on Friday.
When the news of the A’s acquiring Hill on Tuesday, there had already been significant trade interest in Chavez, although I doubt many people thought the trade would happen a mere three days later. The A’s have traded Chavez to the Toronto Blue Jays for right-handed reliever Liam Hendriks.
Hendriks, 26, had a breakout year in 2015. He posted 2.92 ERA with a 71/11 K/BB ratio over 64 2/3 innings out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays and if there is one thing the Athletics need it would be bullpen help. Hendriks will also be under team control until 2019 and won’t be eligible or arbitration until after the 2016 season.
The only issue with Hendriks is that he never had an ERA under 6.00 prior to last season but he did transition from being a starter to a reliever in the bullpen. He also changed his pitching repertoire and his fastball velocity increased considerably.
So, there is more of a risk for the Athletics in this deal than the mainly because Chavez’s track record is a little longer than Hendriks’. However, if the new Hendriks shows up in 2016 for the A’s, he could take over the set-up role that was vacated last year by Ryan Cook and never actually filled.
The A’s bullpen last season was the worst in the big leagues and just couldn’t seem to get it together. Closer Sean Doolittle has recovered from a shoulder issue that cost him the majority of the 2015 season.
The A’s have quiet a bit of pitching depth that they can fill out their bullpen with players like lefty -specialist Fernando Rodriguez, 2015 September call-up Ryan Dull (who was quite impressive), Drew Pomeranz for long relief, now Hendriks and Doolittle. There are other options for relief too.
The A’s are hoping that Hendriks can reproduce his numbers from last season and help shore up the bullpen.
I don’t doubt that Chavez will be a good, cheap fit in the Toronto rotation, the bigger risk was taken by the A’s. We will have to wait and see what 2016 brings for the two clubs.
* More analysis of this trade to come in my column tomorrow on Today’s Knuckleball