Eric Chavez, who’s spent most of this season on the Diamondbacks’ disabled list with a knee injury, has decided to retire now rather than waiting until the offseason.
Injuries derailed what was a very promising career for Chavez while with the A’s, but he bounced back and got healthy enough to thrive in part-time roles for the Yankees and Diamondbacks.
Before all the health problems struck he was a spectacular defensive third baseman with 30-homer power who posted an above-average OPS every season from 2000-2007 and won six Gold Glove awards by age 28. But then he never topped 400 plate appearances in a season after age 29 and retires at 36 with 260 homers, 1,477 hits, and an .818 OPS in 1,615 games while earning nearly $85 million.
It’s a shame Chavez couldn’t have had an injury-free career, because he was an excellent all-around player and dramatically underrated, but he still managed to have a helluva run.
To Eric Chavez’s credit, he has managed to stay productive into his late 30’s, having posted an .825 OPS since the start of the 2012 season. He just hasn’t been able to stay healthy.
Chavez, now 36, suffered from a strained oblique and a strained left knee last season. The Diamondbacks placed him on the disabled list three weeks ago with a sprained left knee. They transferred him from the 15-day disabled list to the 15-day disabled list on Sunday. As the injury is degenerative, the team isn’t holding out hope it’ll get better, and Chavez may end up needing surgery.
As MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports, Chavez says surgery would be “the worst-case scenario”, one which may push him to retire.
“I’m just so close to the end, you know, where I’ve got to worry about feeling good for the rest of my life,” Chavez said. “So surgery would be the worst-case scenario for me to kind of be going down that line.”
Chavez was asked if he planned on retiring at the end of this year.
“It’s a possibility,” he said. “I’m never going to say never. For some reason I have this personal rule that when guys retire you’ve got to be away from the game for two years before you officially say you retired. Because there’s too many that come back.”
Chavez is a veteran of 17 seasons in the major leagues. Having played with the Athletics, Yankees, and D-Backs, Chavez has a career .268/.342/.475 slash line with 260 home runs and 902 RBI. He also has six Gold Glove awards to his name.
From MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert comes word that the Diamondbacks have placed shortstop Chris Owings on the 15-day disabled list because of a left shoulder injury. Nick Ahmed had his contract purchased from Triple-A Reno in a corresponding 25-man roster move and Eric Chavez (knee) was shifted to the 60-day disabled list to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Owings is undergoing an MRI Sunday to determine the exact severity of the shoulder problem that has been bothering him since the middle of last week.
The 22-year-old has hit .277/.313/.458 with six home runs and 21 RBI in 72 games this season for the Diamondbacks, who will use Ahmed and Didi Gregorius at shortstop in his absence. Arizona (35-48) enters play Sunday tied for last place in the National League West.
Arizona’s front office is in flux, with Tony La Russa coming in and both general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson seemingly unlikely to stick around, and not surprisingly the last-place Diamondbacks are hoping to unload some of their veteran players for long-term help before the July 31 trade deadline.
Who exactly could be available? According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic just about every veteran player except All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, but the problem is that most of them aren’t having good seasons and/or have undesirable contracts.
Right-hander Brandon McCarthy, left-hander Oliver Perez, outfielders Cody Ross and Mark Trumbo, and second baseman Aaron Hill will likely be shopped around, and Eric Chavez and Bronson Arroyo are other trade candidates if they can get healthy. And it’s possible that the Diamondbacks could look to trade Martin Prado or Gerardo Parra if the other guys don’t generate enough interest to bring back significant long-term building blocks.
Piecoro quotes one scout as saying that there’s “not a lot of pieces to move” and another scout as saying that “the pieces they will want to move will only get a marginal return because of the money involved.”
In other words: Tony La Russa may have his hands full with this remodel job.
Eric Chavez has a knee injury that might normally require surgery, but the 36-year-old is close enough to the end of his career and has gone through enough health problems that he’s decided not to go under the knife.
Instead the Diamondbacks have placed him on the disabled list with what’s officially being called a sprained left knee and Chavez will hope that some rest and rehab will do the trick. Or at least do the trick enough to let him play the second half of the season in a part-time role.
Chavez told Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic that he heard a “small pop” in his knee before the Diamondbacks left for Australia to open the regular season against the Dodgers. It’s been swollen for much of the season and he’s had to get it drained multiple times, so it’s pretty impressive that Chavez has been able to post an .800 OPS in 81 plate appearances.