What Detroit Tigers' Andrew Chafin thinks about his 2023 player option

SEATTLE — Five days after the World Series ends, Detroit Tigers left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin will officially make a decision about his future.

The 32-year-old, as part of a two-year, $13 million contract, has a $6.5 million player option for 2023, meaning he has the right to exercise his option and lock in that salary for next season or reject the option in favor of hitting the free-agent market for the third offseason in a row.

Chafin is likely to stay with the Tigers, but he isn't tipping his hand.

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"There's no point in jumping to any conclusions with this," Chafin said. "I've got plenty of time before a decision has to be made one way or the other. Right now, I'm just going to focus on this last series, get home, unwind a little bit, get some information together and try to make the best decision we can."

Detroit Tigers reliever Andrew Chafin (37) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during eighth inning action at Comerica Park Sunday, August 21, 2022.
Detroit Tigers reliever Andrew Chafin (37) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels during eighth inning action at Comerica Park Sunday, August 21, 2022.

Besides the Tigers' record, at 66-93 with three games remaining, Chafin enjoyed his 2022 season.

The nine-year MLB veteran, working for his fourth team in three years, developed close bonds with his teammates, especially fellow reliever and locker buddy Jason Foley. The coaching staff treated him well; he spent most of his time with assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves.

"In that regard, it's been a great experience," Chafin said. "I don't really have any complaints about that. The record wasn't what we wanted it to be, but that's baseball. Not everybody can win every time."

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His numbers were everything the Tigers hoped for when they signed him last March. He posted a 2.84 ERA with 18 walks and 66 strikeouts over 57 innings in 63 games. In Monday's 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners, Chafin slammed the door in the ninth inning for his second save in three games, and the 11th save in his 475-game career. He passed Gregory Soto and Joe Jiménez (injured list) for sole possession of the second-most appearances on the team.

Only Alex Lange has more, with 70 outings.

"I've talked to Chaf a lot throughout this, and he's got options," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We'll see where that all falls when it needs to happen. He's been very, very valuable for us and certainly part of our winning bullpen when we've had a path to win."

Beyond the numbers, Chafin possesses an impactful demeanor. He always makes himself available to pitch and won't back down from taking the ball, regardless of the situation. He took the mound 14 times in the sixth inning, 32 times in the seventh, 22 times in the eighth, four times in the ninth and twice in extras.

"Give me the ball, and I'm going to throw it," he said.

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Andrew Chafin walks back to the dugout after being removed after giving up an RBI double to Cleveland Guardians' Steven Kwan during the eighth inning Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Andrew Chafin walks back to the dugout after being removed after giving up an RBI double to Cleveland Guardians' Steven Kwan during the eighth inning Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Distance from home factored into Chafin's decision to sign with the Tigers. In the offseason, he lives on a farm — more than 200 acres — near Massillon, Ohio, about an hour south of Cleveland. He and his wife, Shelbi, have two young daughters. Besides Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Detroit is the closest destination to his family (and his farm).

All of that will contribute to his upcoming decision, too.

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"It was definitely very convenient being as close to home as I was," Chafin said. "That's something that will definitely be factored into it. Being able to be that close to my family is fantastic. We'll see how it goes."

Conversations with Hinch — and new president of baseball operations Scott Harris — have already helped the Tigers in their pursuit of another season with Chafin in their clubhouse. Harris and Hinch seemingly convinced Chafin that winning baseball is on the horizon, and if he wants to be a part of it, he better exercise his $6.5 million player option.

"A little bit of conversations that have been had so far piqued my interest, if you will," Chafin said. "I think things will be turning in the right direction here, so that's something to look forward to for this team for next season."

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Andrew Chafin discusses 2023 player option