The Cubs made good on their stated priority of finding left-handed bullpen help, swinging a deal with the Diamondbacks to bring Andrew Chafin to Chicago in exchange for a player to be named later. The 30-year-old southpaw will be a free agent after this season and is currently on the 10-day IL, so Arizona is reportedly paying his prorated $3.045 million for this season down to the league minimum and will receive a low-level prospect if he’s able to return within the next two weeks or so as expected.
Dbacks are paying Chafin down to the minimum. They are hoping he can return in a couple weeks. If he can, Dbacks would get low level prospect
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 31, 2020
A serviceable reliever who’s made at least 71 appearance in each of the three previous seasons, Chafin fits the Cubs’ main needs of being cheap and having no long-term contractual obligations. He’s also a lefty, which they need with Brad Wieck still on the IL, Kyle Ryan pitching unreliably, and José Quintana likely being pushed back into the rotation. There’s a reason Chafin came cheap, though, and it’s not just the injury.
He has an 8.10 ERA in 11 appearances this season, over which time lefties compiled a .839 OPS against him that only looks good when compared to the .929 put up by righties. His .617 career OPS against lefties indicates that he can be better, but we’re not talking about some kind of dominant force here.
A fastball/slider/sinker pitcher, Chafin has maintained his velocity around 94 mph for the last several years and has consistently put up double-digit K/9 marks. However, he’s getting about 50% fewer whiffs this season and his walk rate is over 12% for the first time since his rookie year. He’s also seen his groundball and soft-contact percentages drop dramatically over the past four seasons.
Maybe there’s something more to this than I can see, but it looks for now like a blah move from a need that needs help and is unwilling or unable to spend enough to get it.