Right-hander Jesse Chavez has reportedly signed a one-year, $5.75 million deal with the Angels, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick reports that the 33-year-old was signed as a starter and will be eligible for an additional $3 million in incentives in 2017.
Chavez was named the Blue Jays’ fifth starter prior to the 2016 season, but ended up operating exclusively out of the bullpen in 39 appearances for Toronto. He was dealt to the Dodgers for right-hander Mike Bolsinger after the midseason deadline, where he was utilized in a relief role again and finished the year with a 4.43 ERA, 3.50 K/BB rate, and 63 strikeouts in 67 innings.
The last team to give Chavez a starting role was the Athletics, when they brought him on board as a hybrid starter-reliever from 2013 to 2015. Over three full seasons, he split his time evenly between the rotation and bullpen, logging 47 starts and 50 relief appearances to the tune of a 3.85 ERA and peaking in 2015 with 2.3 fWAR. The Angels will likely look to develop him as a back-end starter, though he’ll have to compete for the spot against several internal candidates during spring training, including right-handers Alex Meyer and J.C. Ramirez. If he doesn’t profile well as a starter, he’ll likely find himself back in the ‘pen to start the 2017 season.
We wrote a lot about Casey Kelly on this site circa 2010-12.
It was understandable. Kelly was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors, with some people even wondering if he could do it full time. The Sox put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, as he became the top overall prospect in the Boston organization as a pitcher. He then made news when he was sent to San Diego — along with Anthony Rizzo — in the famous Adrian Gonzalez trade in December 2010.
He made his big league debut for the Padres in late August of 2012, holding a pretty darn good Atlanta Braves team scoreless for six innings, striking out four. He would pitch in five more games in the season’s final month to not very good results but missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 thanks to Tommy John surgery.
He wouldn’t make it back to the bigs until 2015 — pitching only three games after being converted to a reliever — before the Padres cut him loose, trading him to the Braves for Christian Bethancourt who, like a younger Kelly, the Padres thought could be a two-way player, catching and relieving. That didn’t work for him either, but I digress.
Kelly made a career-high ten appearances for a bad Braves team in 2016, was let go following the season and was out of the majors again in 2017 after the Cubs released him a couple of months after he failed to make the team out of spring training. He resurfaced with the Giants this past season for seven appearances. The Giants cut him loose last month.
Now Kelly’s journey takes him across the ocean. He announced on Instagram last night that he’s signed with the LG Twins in the Korean Baseball Organization. He seems pretty happy and eager about it in his little video there. I don’t blame him, as he’ll make $1 million for them, as opposed to staying here and almost certainly winding up in a Triple-A rotation making $60K or whatever it is veteran minor leaguers make.
This was probably way too many words to devote to a journeyman heading to play in Korea, but we so often forget top prospects once they fail to meet expectations. We also tend to forget all of the Tommy John casualties, focusing instead on the Tommy John successes. As such, I wanted to think a bit about Casey Kelly. I hope things work out well for him in the KBO and a baseball player who once seemed so promising can, after a delay, find success of his own.