In terms of prospects, the Braves gave up very little at the trade deadline, which is what happens when you have arguably the worst farm system in all of baseball. However, they did have to part ways with a guy that has been a critical piece to their team over the last two seasons in Jesse Chavez to make room on the roster for the newly acquired Raisel Iglesias. It was a necessary evil that had to take place for the roster to improve, but the 38-year-old journeyman will be remembered fondly in Braves Country forever.
To be quite honest, Jesse Chavez’s success in Atlanta is somewhat unexplainable. He came up in a pinch last season when the Braves were desperate for relief help and immediately became one of the most reliable arms for Brian Snitker to turn to from the right side. He even made a couple of spot starts for the team as an opener in both the regular season and playoffs. Overall, Chavez pitched 33.2 innings with a 2.14 ERA and then followed it up with 6.1 scoreless innings in the postseason. Without him, it’s highly unlikely the Braves take home the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time since 1995.
Despite all of his success in 2021, the Braves opted not to re-sign Chavez, and he went on to join the Cubs on a one-year pact. It was a decision Alex Anthopoulos immediately regretted because not two months later, the Braves traded back for Chavez, sending Sean Newcomb to Chicago in the deal.
It was a trade that made sense for both sides. Jesse Chavez had come back to earth early in the season with the Cubs, posting a 6.35 ERA over 5.2 innings. Newcomb, on the other hand, had run his course in Atlanta but still had some upside worth gambling on for a rebuilding team. The Braves’ hope was that Chavez could regain his form in the place where he’d pitched the best baseball of his career, and the trade couldn’t have worked out any better.
Chavez has been even better in 2022 with Atlanta, boasting a 2.11 ERA over 38.1 innings. I’m not sure what happens when he dons that tomahawk across his chest, but it’s special, and it must have been a gut-wrenching decision for Alex Anthopoulos to trade him. However, it was the right one.
Advanced analytics aren’t everything, but Chavez’s scream that severe regression is in line. Eventually, he was going to go through a rough patch, and the Braves didn’t want to be standing around when he did. Instead, they upgraded by bringing in Raisel Iglesias, who has been one of the most feared closers in baseball for years.
It was an opportunity Anthopoulos couldn’t pass up, but that doesn’t mean we should ever forget just how vital Chavez has been to the Braves this year and last. It’s the difficult part of the business, and it’s one of the primary reasons why I’m glad I don’t have to call the shots. Jesse Chavez deserved better, but all we can say now is — Thank You for everything.