Not exactly what you’re used to hearing from me, particularly with a history of older ex-Giants coming through town, right? Well, this one’s a little different, because the San Francisco Chronicle (h/t DodgerThoughts) reports that former Oakland star Eric Chavez has a workout scheduled with the Dodgers on January 20.
Chavez, the #10 overall pick in 1996, was at one point one of the top third basemen in the game. Between 2000-06, he hit for a cumulative line of .273/.352/.495 (121 OPS+), hitting at least 22 homers every year and winning five Gold Gloves. Though he only turned 33 last month, his career his been in shambles since 2007 due to back and shoulder woes – he’s played in just 64 games over the last three seasons.
So what makes him interesting? Chavez is the rare lefty-hitting third baseman, and he has a pronounced platoon split over his career – .873 against RHP, .697 against LHP. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve spent much of the offseason insisting that although Casey Blake mashes against LHP, he’s simply unplayable against RHP. Unfortunately, nothing’s changed there; while you could theoretically bench him against righties and push Juan Uribe to 3B while Jamey Carroll plays 2B, that’s not an option I really see Don Mattingly choosing a lot in his rookie season, so I’ve become resigned to watching Blake flail against righty pitching. If Chavez has anything left, that’s a perfect fit for this team.
Of course, that’s a huge “if” – betting on Chavez to be healthy is like betting on Joe Torre to properly run a bullpen. For his part, he sounds optimistic (though everyone is in January, right?) and seems to have an interest in returning to his Southern California roots.
“The throwing has been unreal,” he said in a text. “I need to see live pitching to judge the hitting accurately, but things look good.”
Chavez probably would be signed to a non-guaranteed deal, given his history, but the Dodgers are believed to have strong interest if his health checks out OK. Chavez has stated a preference for playing in Southern California, and he has spoken to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and is impressed with him.
Chavez also has workouts scheduled with two AL teams, and he might not be healthy anyway, so any excitement would be premature. But despite my usual distaste for old, busted veterans, this situation is exactly the kind of thing the Dodgers should be looking into.