Eric Chavez says “it’s a possibility” he could retire at season’s end

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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.

Mark Lerner says Nationals can’t afford both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg

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The defending champion Washington Nationals may have to replace two star players in third baseman Anthony Rendon and starter Stephen Strasburg as both are free agents. Both are represented by agent Scott Boras and both are expected to command lucrative contracts. As a result, Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner said the club can’t afford to bring back both players, Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington reports.

Lerner told Donald Dell in an interview, “We really can only afford to have one of those two guys. They’re huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with.”

As Dybas notes, there are myriad reasons why Lerner would say this publicly. If Lerner had instead said, “Yeah, we’re filthy stinking rich, especially coming off of a World Series win. We could afford to get every free agent if we wanted to,” then the Nationals would have no leverage in negotiations. Creating artificial scarcity increases the Nationals’ leverage when negotiating with Boras and his clients. And as Dybas also points out, Lerner’s statement also prepares fans for an unsatisfactory outcome not unlike when the club took itself out of the running to bring back outfielder Bryce Harper earlier this year. This not to say Lerner’s statement is justified; it’s just how things work in the current system.

Lerner also defended the Nationals’ approach to free agency. He said, “They think you’re really back there printing money and it’s whoever goes to the highest bidder. It’s not that way at all. You give these fellas — there’s a negotiation that goes on, but…We’ve been pretty successful in free agency over time. You’re not going to get everybody. Certain players may want to go home, closer to where their home is. You never know the reason why people move on. But, we’ve been very successful. Probably one of the most successful teams in free agency the last 10 years. We’re very proud of our record. But, again, I think people have to realize, it’s not all up to us.”

It is true that the Nationals have been one of the most active teams in free agency in recent years. In a league that has otherwise done the opposite, they deserve some credit for that. But the Nationals are also keenly aware of the competitive balance tax threshold, which teams use as a de facto salary cap. They don’t have to, but they choose to because it’s a convenient structure that allows them to limit expenditures.

At the end of the day, it’s baseball’s financial structure that is rotten. It forces constant misinformation out of everyone’s mouths so as to protect their financial interests and leverage, and incentivizes teams to value profits above all. In a perfect world, MLB team owners wouldn’t need to cry poor every offseason, but we don’t live in such a world.