The Detroit Tigers have gotten active on the major league market for the first time following the lockout, reportedly signing big left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin to a two-year, 13 million dollar deal with an opt-out after year one.
This news comes only a day after skipper A.J. Hinch stated that the Tigers are “actively looking for guys” (information courtesy of WXYZ Detroit).
Chafin signs the deal after posting a 1.83 ERA in 71 games, recording five saves and 64 strikeouts. Chafin joins a Detroit Tigers bullpen alongside Gregory Soto, Kyle Funkhouser, and Michael Fulmer. He now becomes the headlining act that will likely appear out of the ‘pen in the 6th-8th innings.
The eight-year MLB veteran has pitched in Arizona, Chicago, and most recently Oakland, consistently posting solid statistics on both the surface (career 3.30 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) as well as below the surface (career 3.18 FIP, 0.6 HR/9, 9.3 K/9). He limits hard contact, generates groundballs, and strikes batters out.
Now, to avid Detroit Jock City readers, it should be well known that seven weeks ago, I promoted the signing of Chafin as a back-end piece that will be able to reliably get outs and pitch in the big games that are likely to come. It seems as though Al Avila is a big fan of my work because my wish has come to fruition. Now, let’s prove why I am right and analyze this signing a little deeper.
Detroit Tigers signee Andrew Chafin is a substantial piece for the back-end of the bullpen.
In terms of a role, we can expect to see Chafin bridge the gap between the starters and closer. Think 7th and 8th innings where he will enter for a little bit and shut down the top/middle of opposing lineups. Overall, I don’t see him as a closer, just given the fact that he has only eight career saves, and it would be a very late-career shift to make him the permanent closer.
As a setup, his stuff will allow projected closer Gregory Soto’s stuff to play off even better, as Chafin’s sinker/four-seam/slider combo will come in about six mph slower with a heavier vertical break from a similar arm slot. The two will form a deadly late-innings pairing that will only be aided by Fulmer and Funkhouser.
Chafin will be incredibly important as a guaranteed left-handed reliever, as Soto and Tyler Alexander are the only two lefties that will come out of the bullpen throughout the year (Alexander is more of a spot starter/long reliever).
Beyond his role as a player, Chafin is also a likable personality and enjoyable veteran presence that should solidify an otherwise very young pitching staff. He has a glorious Hulk Hogan-Esque mustache, wears “Failed Starter” t-shirts, and gives hilarious mic’d up interviews. I mean, a quirky left-handed reliever with a stellar personality, that’s the Tigers’ way (see also: Phil Coke).
This move and all of the minor league transactions the Tigers have been making (adding Ryan Lavarnway, Chase Anderson, and more) show that Detroit is most certainly not done before Opening Day. So, who’s next?