After contemplating retirement following four straight injury wrecked seasons Eric Chavez instead signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees and has parlayed a healthy, productive spring training into a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Chavez has hit .405 with a homer and four doubles in 42 at-bats this spring, which is remarkable less for the batting average and more for the fact that he averaged just 77 at-bats for the A’s during the past three seasons.
He’ll serve as the corner infield backup behind third baseman Alex Rodriguez and first baseman Mark Teixeira, while perhaps also seeing a little action at designated hitter in place of Jorge Posada. At this point a part-time role is ideal for Chavez and if healthy he could be an excellent reserve, but “if healthy” stopped meaning much with him years ago.
Chavez will receive $1.5 million upfront for making the team and can earn another $4 million in incentives based on playing time.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.