The Orioles made the signing of outfielder Endy Chavez official Tuesday. The 33-year-old agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with additional performance incentives that could be worth an additional $500,000.
Chavez hit .301 with a .323 on-base percentage and.426 slugging percentage in 83 games with the American League-champion Texas Rangers last year. He is a .274 career hitter who has played 10 seasons with six teams and twice made it to the postseason (in 2006 and 2011).
Here’s Dan Duquette’s quote from the club’s release: “Endy is a tremendous defender and gives us needed depth in the outfield. He is a veteran player whose left-handed bat will give us options off the bench.”
Chavez will not change the Orioles’ fortunes in the AL East. He is not an impact signing; he is not someone for whom fans are clamoring.
When I tweeted the signing and the terms Sunday, several fans immediately responded with sarcastic remarks about buying playoff tickets. And they’ve all earned the right to be jaded.
But a little perspective here: Chavez is a pretty solid player who does the little things exceptionally well. I’ve always liked watching his high-energy play and am surprised he didn’t end up with a contender, although he probably sees a better chance at consistent playing time in Baltimore.
He is a guy who is beloved throughout baseball. Hardworking, easygoing and seemingly clutch with the bat and glove (it’s impossible to forget his home run-robbing catch and subsequent double play in the 2006 National League Championship Series).
Former Oriole Melvin Mora, a fellow Venezuelan, has been praising Chavez for years. Several times, Mora tried to get Orioles management to trade for or sign Chavez.
Fans don’t want to hear this, of course. They want impact players who can lift the Orioles out of 14 years of losing. But the Orioles will not be a contender in 2012. That’s the cold, hard fact.
So while they are dealing with more losing, there’s nothing wrong with adding respectful, do-it-right veterans who can run, bunt, field and understand their roles.
The way the roster sets up now, Chavez will be a fourth outfielder, getting some starts in left and occasionally spelling Adam Jones and Nick Markakis in center and right. He is what Felix Pie could and should have been, but the ultra-talented Pie couldn’t maintain any consistency.
I’m not asking you to be excited about the Endy Chavez signing. He is depth and insurance and far from a savior. His name is as uninspiring – in terms of playoff aspirations – as the other additions by Duquette so far.
But assuming his legs hold up, I bet you are pleasantly surprised by what Chavez brings to an expected ho-hum season at Camden Yards.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun