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Fresh off the heels of the team’s latest round of injury woes, the Angels have made another trade to address the team’s immediate needs, adding Chacin to a rotation that could most charitably be described as “a work in progress.” The situation in Anaheim is dicey, but no less so than Atlanta–or in his previous life in Colorado–so at least Chacin can leverage his substantial experience being the least-worst of a bunch of bad rotation options.
I’ve been watching him on and off since he came back with the Diamondbacks last year, and this version of Chacin is a little different than his Colorado incarnation; he’s possibly a legitimate No. 4 starter or better, provided he stays healthy. Since moving to Arizona last season, he’s implemented a cut fastball, which he now uses about 17 percent of the time. He’s still kind of a sinker-slider guy, but the cutter gives him a legitimate weapon and a sixth pitch to use–one that actually gets some swings and misses compared to his other fastballs.
This cutter also gets roughly as many ground balls as his sinker–56 percent for the cutter compared to 63 percent for the sinker–so it’s probably already his best pitch. That’s very good, because when Chacin is not keeping the ball on the ground, it tends to leave the park. Over the last few seasons he’s given up more than a homer per nine innings–and that hasn’t changed in his first month-plus with Atlanta. The big, important run prevention numbers don’t look so good over April and May, but that’s alright–his underlying peripheral numbers paint the picture of a guy who’s getting some bad bounces (.321 BABIP) in the midst of a strikeout renaissance. Unlike any previous season, Chacin is fanning more than a batter per inning, and could be in line for some positive regression going forward.
The Halos needed a warm body for their rotation, and they got one for a nominal price, so this deal grades out as a win. Sure, they have to eat the $1.1 million remaining on his contract, but that’s paying virtually nothing for starting pitcher. To only have to give up a 23-year-old rookie-baller as the price? That’s some fine work by Billy Eppler and company, even if Chacin were something like a replacement-level innings-eater over the rest of the season. Innings are very valuable, even at the margins.
But there’s a non-zero chance that Chacin is substantially better than just a replacement-level dude. His DRA for the season (3.82) more closely matches his pretty-good FIP (4.01) than his pretty-lame ERA (5.40), and he should benefit a little from pitching in a place that suppresses fly balls and homers a hair more than anywhere else he’s pitched previously. Maybe Chacin is a legitimate starter. If he can hold up at this level for a little while, he could be a lovely comeback story and a cog that keeps the Angels machine running while setting himself up for a better contract in 2017. Better yet, maybe the Angels can flip him to an actual contender for a better return than they gave up, and end up with a little bit of much-needed arbitrage. —Bryan Grosnick
A move to the American League isn't a great thing from a fantasy standpoint, but going to Los Angeles is going to give him a slightly more advantageous park to play in (and slightly more advantageous of a defense to play in front of). That said, Chacin has never been someone who was too undone by the long ball, so he benefits slightly less than most. Sure, the offense is better now, which gives him a little more win potential, but that doesn't move the needle to the point where he's a viable mixed league play. Given the lack of depth the Angels have, Chacin should maintain solid AL-only value the rest of the way and deserves a 15-20% FAAB bid in mono formats, if you're not waiting for an NL firesale.
Just be glad you won't have to see him pitch as much anymore. —Bret Sayre
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Acquired LHP Adam McCreery from the Angels in exchange for RHP Jhoulys Chacin [5/11]
McCreery was a heavily recruited left-hander who chose to sign with Arizona State rather than sign with Minnesota out of high school. His time with ASU didn't go as planned, and he ended up transferring to Azusa Pacific before being drafted by the Angels in the 22nd round in 2014. (Note: Take the money, kids).
As you might guess from a 6-foot-8 hurler, McCreery is able to create plan with his fastball, and it's a plus pitch that'll get up to 96 mph. He also throws a slider that's short, but with enough tilt to give left-handers trouble. He also shows a change that's closer to 40 than 50, and that's a pitch that could get scrapped. He has zero command of any of these pitches, and like many power-forward sized pitchers, he struggles to repeat any portion of his delivery. Because of his size and arm strength there's a little bit of lottery ticket in him, but it's more of a scratch play at the bowling alley than something that's gonna make you rich. This is very likely an organizational arm. —Christopher Crawford
You might think that more opportunity would make for an arrow up. But this is Norris and he's terrible. You're better off having an empty spot in your lineup. —Bret Sayre
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