Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at the Potential of Michael Chavis


Newly acquired utility man Michael Chavis should get an opportunity to rejuvenate his MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates

On July 30th, just minutes before MLB’s 4:00 PM ET trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded relief pitcher Austin Davis to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for infielder Michael Chavis. Davis who was initially traded to the Pirates from the Philadelphia Phillies and made a total of 15 relief appearances for the Pirates over the last two season would be off to Beantown in exchange for a former first-round draft pick who had not lived up to expectations in Boston.

Could this move potentially be just what Chavis needs to reignite his Major League career? Could the Pittsburgh Pirates have potentially found a diamond in the rough with this last-minute trade deadline move?

Like many general managers throughout baseball Ben Cherington has a history of bringing over players from his past life whom he has had ties with. Cherington’s finger prints are all over the Red Sox drafting of Chavis, as he led Boston to draft the infielder in the first-round of the 2014 MLB Draft.

Chavis was committed to play baseball for Clemson, however, he decided to sign with Boston instead. The Red Sox felt Chavis could develop into a power hitter and was once regarded as one of the top prospects in the organization. After finding success at all levels of the Red Sox minor league system, Chavis would make his debut on April 20th 2019 against the Tampa Bay Rays. That season he appeared in 95 games and would go on to hit .254 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI.

The delayed 2020 season would not go so well for Chavis. He went on to appear in 42 games and hit just .212 with 5 home runs and 19 RBI. The struggles would continue the following Spring and Chavis would not make Boston’s Opening Day roster, instead being optioned to the alternate training site.

This season Chavis has appear in just 31 MLB games splitting time between Boston and Triple-A Worcester. He would bat a mere .190 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. Chavis once labeled a top prospect, now was being considered a bust with failed expectations. Red Sox manager Joey Cora believes that Chavis is still growing and ultimately working on adjustments telling Christopher Smith of Masslive.com, “(Chavis) came here in ‘19, he did a good job for us.” “Obviously it’s a league of adjustments. He’s still working on it.”

Boston is competing right now finding themselves in the race for the AL East pennant. Pittsburgh on the other hand is entrenched in a rebuild which could be an upside for the 25-year-old Atlanta Georgia native. The Pirates have the time and patience to further develop Chavis.

One downside Chavis has had so far is his high swing and miss rate. He likes to hunt fastballs too much especially high in the zone. After early success, it didn’t take too long before major league pitchers figured out his weakness and started attacking the top of the zone. According to Fangraphs his 33.2% strikeout rate was the fourth highest strikeout rate in the league in 2019. If the Pirates can harness his aggressive plate approach and improve his discipline, there could be power to be had. That certainly wouldn’t hurt a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates who have been at the bottom of the league in home runs.

Chavis has started his Pirates career off at Triple-A Indianapolis. So far in 4 games he has 16 plate appearances with 9 hits, 2 of which have been home runs. It shouldn’t be long before Chavis is called up to Pittsburgh giving the Pirates an opportunity to kick the tires on the former first rounder.

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After the trade Chavis told the Post-Gazette that he spoke with Cherington on the phone, “Just from that conversation, I could tell that he still believed in me, and that was something that really meant a lot.” “Knowing that this team believes in me and that I’m going to get opportunities, I’m really excited to be here.” A new environment with an old GM who still has confidence in him may be just what he needs to rekindle his career.