Eric Chavez is “leaning heavily” toward retirement

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post just tweeted that, while there’s nothing official yet, he’s hearing that Yankees utilityman Eric Chavez is “leaning heavily” toward retirement.

Chavez had more plate appearances this year than he had had since 2007 — a whole 175 of them — but the magic is long gone.  He hit .263/.320/.356 with two homers in a utility role that, thanks to yet more injuries, was more limited than it otherwise would have been given A-Rod’s injuries.  It’s hard to conclude anything other than “it’s time.”

There was a time several years ago, however, when it looked like Chavez was a Hall of Famer in the making. From 2000-2006 he hit .273/.352/.495 with 199 homers while winning six gold gloves.  Believing that he was the future of the franchise, the A’s gave him a six-year, $66 million contract in 2005.  Sadly, injuries started to plague him a year later and he never played in 100 games after 2006.

If this is the end, it represents the end of one of the more notable “what if” careers in recent baseball history.  And reminds us that durability, however unsexy it may be, is perhaps the most underrated trait for an elite baseball player.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.