The Boston Red Sox are rumored to have interest in trading for Arizona Diamondbacks left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin before the deadline.
We’re still expecting the Boston Red Sox to upgrade their bullpen before the MLB trade deadline but it won’t necessarily be a splashy move.
While the rumor mill has been swirling with appealing options such as Edwin Diaz and Kirby Yates, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand cautions that the Red Sox are unlikely to land any of the top-tier relievers and have instead pivoted to “lesser bullpen names.”
One of those under the radar options could be Andrew Chafin. According to The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam, the left-handed reliever from the Arizona Diamondbacks is a trade target for the Red Sox.
As McAdam points out, Chafin fits the bill for two traits the Red Sox are looking for on the trade market: He’s cheap and under control through next year. Boston would be on the hook for the prorated remainder of this year’s $1.95 million salary, which fits neatly under the threshold for the third tier of luxury tax penalties. Chafin will enter his third year of arbitration-eligibility next season before hitting free agency.
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Chafin is 0-2 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 36 1/4 innings this season. The production has been underwhelming but there are some reasons for optimism. Chafin’s 3.70 FIP this season is more in line with his career 3.62 ERA. He’s matched his career-high with an 11.1 K/9 and his 3.2 BB/9 is the best walk rate of his career.
Adding to his appeal is that Chafin is a lefty reliever who is more than merely a specialist. He’s held left-handed hitters to a .219 batting average throughout his career but he’s been more than serviceable against right-handed bats (.244 batting average against). Red Sox manager Alex Cora prefers versatility from his relievers rather than taking up a roster spot with a pitcher who may only face one batter.
That being said, it’s hard to get excited about the concept of dealing for Chafin. Is he better than the worst reliever in the Red Sox bullpen? Probably, which technically makes him an upgrade. He doesn’t move the needle though. Chafin isn’t a guy they would bring in for high-leverage spots late in games. He’s just another guy.
Trading for Chafin would be reminiscent of the plan that failed the Red Sox last winter – bring in a bunch of cheap options instead of one high profile name and hope one of them sticks. Most of them didn’t pan out which is why we’re here desperately seeking bullpen help at the deadline.
Chafin isn’t helping his trade value with his recent performances either. He owns a 9.64 ERA since the All-Star break and has allowed seven runs in his last nine appearances, including three home runs. Continuing that trend following a trade to Boston would quickly get him demoted to mop-up duty or designated for assignment.
His track record shows Chafin is capable of being a decent middle reliever but he’s not the upgrade the Red Sox need. The price tag seems unreasonably high for some of the top relievers on the market and there’s plenty of competition from other contenders. Paying that ransom for a reliever may not be worth it in the long run. Yet if Chafin is the best reliever the Red Sox come away with, this is going to be a very disappointing deadline.