In his look at high-salaried players who might be released, Satchel Price writes about these four guys: Eric Chavez ($15 million in remaining contractual obligations), Jeff Suppan ($14.5 million), Dontrelle Willis ($12 million) and Pat Burrell ($9 million). All those guys are indeed candidates (and no, I wasn't impressed with Willis yesterday), but I want to specifically address the Chavez situation. Price:
I wondered aloud a couple weeks ago whether Chavez could be this spring's Gary Sheffield, as he battled for playing time at the infield corners and the DH spot with Jack Cust, Gabe Gross, Eric Patterson, Jake Fox and Adam Rosales. The assumption was that the A's would have Landon Powell as their back-up catcher, so they could only hold onto three of the players listed above, including Chavez.
Obviously, the A's opted to make some surprising moves to keep Chavez on the roster, by designating Cust for assignment and sending Powell to Triple-A, opting to use Fox as the team's back-up catcher. As a DH, the bar is set pretty high offensively for Chavez, and given his track record in the past five years (.250/.326/.441, essentially a league average hitter), it seems unlikely that he'll make for a good DH.
If the team wants to get Fox's bat or the quality gloves of Powell and Rosales into the lineup, the team may need to move Chavez.
Well, there's not a great deal of room for Rosales' glove regardless of Chavez, since the A's have Cliff Pennington at shortstop and Mark Ellis at second base. I don't believe Chavez's presence has a great deal to do with Jake Fox's at-bats, either.
The A's have played four games. In three of them, Chavez started at DH against a right-handed starter. In the other game, Fox started at DH against a left-handed starter. Considering Fox's history, platoon DH seems like the perfect job for him. Here's what I think. If the A's release Chavez, they'll simply summon Jack Cust from Sacramento to fill his accustomed role.
Here's my take on Chavez ... Billy Beane has a great deal invested in Eric Chavez. Not just the money. Beane once compared Chavez to Barry Bonds (in a good way). I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that Billy Beane loves Eric Chavez (in a baseball way). Beane's reluctance to dump Chavez is perfectly understandable. Which doesn't mean it's necessarily rational.
Even if we assume that Cust replaces Chavez at some point, that still leaves the A's with one-and-a-half (at best) catchers, as Fox hasn't been a real catcher since 2006. Presumably, he was moved from behind the plate for a pretty good reason. The A's don't have a day off until the 19th, and they're off again a week later; just two off-days in April. Something tells me that Jack Cust will get his chance, and so will Landon Powell.