As trade rumors swirl between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks, could the Bucs target a lefty reliever from the Snakes?
Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings have come and gone. At the Winter Meetings the Pittsburgh Pirates made a pair of moves. They traded starting pitcher Ivan Nova and his $9+ million contract to the Chicago White Sox, and they signed pitcher Jordan Lyles.
While the Pirates have said Lyles will have an opportunity to win a spot in the starting rotation, odds are, the team would rather use the veteran righty as a reliever. Lyles has always struggled to find consistency as a starter, but was dominant out of the bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers last season.
Another note that came out of the Winter Meetings were swirling trade rumors between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks. As you can read more about here, the primary player being discussed between the two squads is Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed. Left-handed starting pitcher Robbie Ray‘s name has come up in trade discussion, too.
However, could there be more players whose names are being discussed?
The Diamondbacks have already traded superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals signalling that any player on the team is available in trade talks. The Pirates still have one more hole in their bullpen that needs filled – another left-handed reliever. Could the Diamondbacks help to fill this hole? Well, with veteran Andrew Chafin it is possible.
28-year-old Chafin has spent the last four seasons with the Diamondbacks at the MLB level. He also got a cup of coffee with the team during the 2014 season.
Last season, Chafin posted a 3.10 ERA and a 2.65 FIP in 49 1/3 innings pitched. His 11.9% walk rate is slightly alarming, but he worked around it by striking out 25.1% of batters faced and not allowing a single home run.
Under Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle, the Pirates have never been fans of relievers that are lefty specialists. Fitting to the Pirate mold, Chafin is effective against both left and right-handed hitters.
Last season LHHs slugged .312 with a .302 wOBA against Chafin, while RHHs slugged .284 with a .257 wOBA. For his career, LHHs own a .282 slugging percentage and a .265 wOBA while those numbers sit at .357 and .297 for RHHs. These numbers have come while facing more RHHs (509) in his career than LHHs (387).
Chafin’s strong 2018 season built upon the work he has done since moving to Arizona’s bullpen. After making three starts in 2014, Chafin moved to the bullpen in a full time role beginning in 2015. Since then, Chafin owns a 3.49 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 10.4% walk rate, 23.9% strikeout rate, and he’s allowed just nine home runs in 198 1/3 innings pitched.
Additionally, Chafin would not be a rental players for the Pirates as he comes with two years of team control. This would add Chafin to the list of relievers the Pirates control through at least the 2020 season. Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, and Richard Rodriguez are on this list, too.