After the loss of utility man Nick Punto to the Oakland Athletics, the Dodgers may be in the market for a backup infielder to replace him.
Today, we take a look at a veteran third baseman that could fill that void this upcoming season:
Chavez is a 35-year-old left-handed hitting third baseman that spent the 2013 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his major league career, Chavez is hitting .268 with 257 home runs and 894 RBI in 16 seasons.
Chavez spent the year as a backup third baseman for the Diamondbacks and hit .281 with nine home runs and 44 RBI in 80 games. He started 46 games at third base, four games at designated hitter and two games at first base. Chavez also had 14 doubles and slugged .478 in 228 at-bats.
After injuries caused him to miss the better part of four seasons, Chavez has came back strong the past two seasons with the Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. In the past two seasons, he hit .281 with 25 home runs and 81 RBI in 193 games. Chavez was one of the premier third baseman in the game before the injuries and has shown that he’s capable of being a very productive player in a backup or platoon role. He provides solid offense and has some power from the left side of the plate.
Chavez has always been a great defensive third baseman and has continued to be an above-average defender at the hot corner. Last season, he had a .993 fielding percentage at third and had just one error in over 400 innings. He also adds versatility now that he’s able to move across the diamond and play first base, if needed. The 35-year-old is a former six-time Gold Glove winner and continues to provide a strong defensive effort.
At this point in his career, Chavez knows his role and has accepted the fact that he’s no longer an everyday player. The third baseman will come into a team as a backup or platoon role and provide a strong veteran presence of a player that’s been to the playoffs. He also will become a big bat off the bench as a pinch-hitter late in games. Last season, Chavez had five hits in 16 opportunities with a home run while driving in six. Chavez won’t only be a valuable asset on the field, but can become a leader in the clubhouse.
As with most left-handed hitters, Chavez can become victim to a manager’s decision to bring in a left-hander out of the bullpen. In his career, the 16-year veteran is hitting just .237 against lefties as opposed to .279 against righties. Chavez was successful last season against left-handers, hitting .290 against them, but in a very small sample size. The struggle against left-handers could cause Chavez to be left on the bench in crucial situations with a left-hander looming.
Despite his recent resurgence, Chavez is still 35-years-old and dealt with back pain and even spent some time on the disabled list last season with an oblique tear. His injuries forced him to resort to being a backup player and he could be one more injury away from retirement. Chavez hasn’t had a season without a DL stint since 2005. The Dodgers may shy away from a player that is injury prone, regardless of how well he can do.
With the Dodgers planning on a deep postseason run in 2014, Chavez has struggled in the playoffs in his career. He owns a .192 career postseason average and was hitless in 17 at-bats in 2011-2012 with the Yankees. Chavez wouldn’t be a full-time playoff starter, but could earn a spot start or pinch-hit opportunity and the Dodgers cannot count on a player that has struggled under pressure.
The Diamondbacks signed Chavez to a one-year, $3 million deal last off-season. The 35-year-old can expect a similar contract this season with teams unlikely to sign him to a multi-year deal because of his past. Chavez will get another one-year deal in the $2-3 million range to be a part of a platoon or a full-time backup.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 35%
The number may change depending on what the Dodgers do with their third base situation. The team may choose to re-sign Juan Uribe, which would increase the chances that the team pursues Chavez as a left-handed hitting alternative to the right-handed hitting Uribe.
If the Dodgers decide to sign a bigger name to play third base, they may decide against bringing Chavez in because starts and at-bats will be at a premium. Expect the Dodgers to try and re-sign Uribe at third base, prompting management to take a longer look at Chavez to split some time and come off the bench.
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