Tuesday Afternoon Food For Thought: Taking A Flier On Jhoulys Chacin

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the Colorado Rockies released right-hander Jhoulys Chacin over the weekend.  I say somewhat surprising because the Rockies are always starved for starting pitching, Chacin is only 27 and has a modest track record of success with them when healthy, and he came at a reasonable price of $5.5 mil for this season, his final one of team control. What makes the move understandable from the Rockies' standpoint is the miserable and injury-plagued season that Chacin had in 2014.  He threw 63.1 innings over 11 starts with a 5.40 ERA and 4.82 FIP, and battled shoulder problems all year.  Unless I'm mistaken, and I very well could be, I don't think last year was the first time he's had shoulder injuries either.  For the Rockies to just completely cut bait on him, they must know something the rest of MLB doesn't about the condition of that shoulder.

Which brings me to the obvious question of whether or not the Yankees should be interested in pursuing Chacin as some added depth for their corps of injury backups.  In 5+ seasons in Colorado, he pitched to a not-too-shabby 3.78/4.03/4.08 tripleslash with a "meh" K rate (18.0%) and higher than you want to see BB rate (9.8%).  That K rate has been trending in the wrong direction since he broke into the show, however, and last year it was only 15.4%.  Perhaps not unrelated, his average fastball velocity has been trending down as well, from low 90s across the board in '09 to 88.5 MPH on his 4-seamer this past season.  He's also lost velocity on all his offspeed pitches in that timeframe, which doesn't suggest good things for the health of his shoulder or prospects for success going forward.

The Yankees have already stockpiled some emergency arms in the form of Scott Baker and Kyle Davies, and they still have Triple-A standbys Jose De Paula, Chase Whitley, and Bryan Mitchell in the mix.  Even with the high level of injury risk in the rotation, adding a potentially damaged Chacin to the pile isn't a necessity by any means.  That said, there could be some juice left to squeeze out of that 27-year-old fruit if the shoulder looks OK, and the Yankees really have nothing to lose by signing him to a MiL deal.  If they're interested and they do their due diligence checking his medicals, I have no problem taking a low-risk shot on him.