Eric Chávez Coming Back For More?

Via Susan Slusser: "Eric Chávez definitely plans to play again next season and several teams have strong interest."

Hey, why wouldn't several teams have strong interest?

Oh, wait. I know. Several teams wouldn't have strong interest because Eric Chávez probably won't be a replacement-level third baseman next season.

Granted, I was similarly pessimistic when Chávez signed with the Yankees last winter. Why on earth, I wondered, would the New York Yankees be interested in a guy who'd played in 64 games over the previous three seasons? And not hit (at all) when he did play? Why, Chávez would probably pull a latissimus dorsimus maximus while lined up on field for the National Anthem on Opening Day.

Except he didn't pull anything on Opening Day. Five weeks into the season, Chávez was healthy and hitting: .303/.410/.424 in 17 games (including eight starts). A Vernal Miracle!

Well, until the 5th of May. He started at third base that day, and in the fourth inning he tripled. He also hurt his foot, bad. Chávez didn't play again until late July. He did avoid the Disabled List for the rest of the season, which was a good (and surprising) thing. He didn't hit, though. At all: .252/.294/.339 in 136 plate appearances.

Look, I could understand a team being desperate for a third baseman in March, and giving Chávez's agent a call. Maybe your guy has pulled a hamstring and you need a non-embarrassing replacement for a few weeks. You know, sort of like buying flight insurance at the airport.

But to have strong interest in Eric Chávez now? In December? When you've got four months to find a backup third baseman who's a decent bet to stay healthy or hit something like a league-average player?

We'll have to see what strong interest actually means. But let us never forget the psychological powers of the Proven Veteran™.

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