Report: Angels sign Jesse Chavez as efforts to bolster rotation depth begin

·Yahoo Sports Contributor
Veteran Jesse Chavez pitched for the Blue Jays and Dodgers in 2016. (Getty Images)
Veteran Jesse Chavez pitched for the Blue Jays and Dodgers in 2016. (Getty Images)

What’s expected to be a busy offseason for the Los Angeles Angels will begin with the addition of free agent pitcher Jesse Chavez.

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Angels have agreed to a one-year, $5.75M contract with the 33-year-old right-hander. The deal also includes $2.5M in incentives, of which Yahoo Sports Jeff Passan has a complete breakdown.

It’s no secret the Angels were a flawed team in 2016. A lot of the attention was on an offense that struck zero fear into the opposition beyond Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The lack of run production on its own was a big reason the team finished a disappointing 74-88, but it was further highlighted by a pitching staff that was ravaged and depleted by injuries.

The old saying about never having enough pitching definitely applied to the Angels. They entered the season feeling good about their depth, but ended up losing six pitchers to season-ending injuries. And that’s not even including ace Garrett Richards, who was diagnosed with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament back in May. Richards instead opted for rest and stem cell treatments over Tommy John surgery.

Also lost were starters Andrew Heaney (UCL tear), C.J. Wilson (labrum/rotator cuff surgery), Nick Tropeano (UCL tear) and Matt Shoemaker (skull fracture), in addition to Tyler Skaggs, who missed a chunk of the season with forearms issues. As a result, the Angels were left scrambling for pitching at basically every turn. That included an ill-fated Tim Lincecum experiment that lasted all of nine starts.

Richards is expected to be ready for spring training, but there are question marks surrounding each and every one of these pitchers. That makes it essential that general manager Billy Eppler compiles more quality depth moving forward.

Chavez represents a solid start to that process. He made 47 starts for the Oakland A’s between 2014-15, posting a 3.94 ERA. Those numbers obviously give them confidence he can slide into a rotation spot next season and hold his own.

Worth noting, the Blue Jays and Dodgers did not share that vision in 2016. All 62 of Chavez’s major-league appearances this past season were in relief. Chavez started the season in Toronto, posting a 4.57 ERA over 39 appearances. He was traded to the Dodgers for pitcher Mike Bolsinger on Aug. 1, making 23 appearances with a 4.21 ERA. Despite the decent number, he was not included on the Dodgers postseason roster.

Without much help waiting in the minors or assets available to be traded, the Angels might be forced to explore similar deals with several mid-to-lower level starters. Getting that first one in the fold though at least gives them options to build on.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!