Orioles Sign Outfielder Endy Chavez

The Orioles have signed outfielder Endy Chavez to a one-year contract (presumably for something like like $1-1.5 M*). The soon to be 34 year-old has a career .274/.313/.373 batting line, as he doesn’t work free passes (5.5% walk rate) or hit for power (.099 ISO). That’s not what he was signed for though; Chavez is a very good defensive outfielder, with a career UZR/150 of around +21 runs in the corners and +7 in center (the other metrics similarly see him as saving quite a few runs with the glove). If he hits .270/.305/.360 but plays close to his usual level of defense (and base-running), than he should be around a half-win player for the O’s.

* Turns out it’s $1.5 M, with another $0.5 M in performance bonuses.

Britt Ghiroli mentioned that the left-handed Chavez would be platooning in left-field with Nolan Reimold, but that doesn’t seem to make much sense. Chavez has very slight reverse career platoon splits (.307 wOBA versus lefties, .302 wOBA versus righties), while Reimold actually has more prominent reverse* platoon splits, though in a smaller sample size (.345 wOBA versus righties, .332 wOBA versus lefties). One could argue that Chavez is actually the better player at this point (if, say, Reimold’s defense is bad, his power falls off a bit, and his BABIP stays low), but the potential for an extra half-win (by giving Endy more playing time) matters less than finding out what the O’s might have with Nolan. Chavez being around as a defensive replacement is fine – he’s easily the best defense outfielder on the team now – and letting him give some outfielder or other a rest every now and again is OK too, but if he’s starting 3-4 days a week that isn’t great news.

* Interestingly, Adam Jones also has some reverse splits; .341 wOBA versus righties, .297 wOBA versus lefties.