Did the Angels Move too Quickly in Signing Jesse Chavez?

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Updated: February 22, 2017

At the time, it seemed like the Angels made one of the better value signings of the offseason early, grabbing Jesse Chavez for only $5 million dollars for only one year. Who knew what the pitching market would end up looking like, and grabbing a consistently decent pitcher who’s succeeded in the rotation and the bullpen was a smart move for a team that needed pitching. In hindsight, the Angels may have moved too quickly instead of letting the market play out, similar to the Toronto Blue Jays and Kendrys Morales.

The Blue Jays assumed players like Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion would sign massive, long term deals, and signed Kendrys Morales to a three year, $33 million dollar deal very early in the offseason. When the market for sluggers never developed and those players were stuck accepting shorter-term deals for not that much more than Morales got, it appeared the Jays had overplayed their hand and were stuck with a player that was not nearly as good as what they could have had.

Now, the Angels’ situation is not quite the same, as the talent gap is not as wide between, say, Chavez and Jason Hammel as it is between Encarnacion and Morales.

The fact remains, however, that the Angels could have had a better pitcher for not that much more than what they gave Chavez, and you have to wonder that if the Angels could have foreseen players like Hammel, Travis Wood, Doug Fister, and Tyson Ross having a hard time finding a decent job they would have hung back and made a play for one of those players, all who are arguably better than Chavez and signed for a very similar AAV, albeit for multiple years for Hammel and Wood, respectively.

Still, those were only two year deals, so it seems likely that the Angels would have signed Hammel for only two years for $16 million if they had known he would have been available for that price.

Hindsight is 20/20, however, and you can’t fault the Angels at all for making the move they did at the time. Considering that the Atlanta Braves had just paid $12.5 million and $8 million each for Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, respectively, the Angels rightfully envisioned the pitchers’ market going berserk and moved quickly to grab a good, and versatile, pitcher for cheap.

Watching two very old pitchers get that kind of money would have scared anybody who was in the pitching market as desperately as the Angels were, and looking back at it the Braves are the ones that come out looking the worst of any team that signed pitching. While it’s obviously true the Angels would rather have had Hammel at the price tag he ended up receiving, they did well to get the pitcher they did for the price tag they did, especially considering the circumstances involved.

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