What is interesting about Jesse Chavez is the fact that just about any team could have had him a couple seasons ago. The Toronto Blue Jays claimed him on waivers from the Atlanta Braves in 2011 and in August of 2012, he was acquired in a cash trade by the Athletics from the Blue Jays. Chavez is not young by today's standards and at age 30 has been around for a while. In fact, he was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs at age 18 in the 39th round of the 2001 draft but did not sign. A year later, he was taken in the 42nd round by the Texas Rangers where he chose to start his professional baseball career. Chavez spent the next three plus seasons in the minors in the Rangers system until he was traded to the Pirates organization for RHP Kip Wells. In 2008, he made his big league debut with the Pirates, getting into 15 games as a reliever, but pitched to a 6.60 ERA. The next season, he pitched in 73 games for the Pirates, going 1-4, 4.01 but striking out just 47 batters in 67 1/3 innings.
After the 2009 season, Chavez was traded by the Pirates to the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Akinori Iwamura. Just about a month later, the Rays sent him to the Atlanta Braves in a deal for RHP Rafael Soriano. He struggled in the Braves pen, pitching to a 5.89 ERA in 28 games before he was traded to the Kansas City Royals with LHP Tim Collins and OF Gregor Blanco in a deal for OF Rick Ankiel and RHP Kyle Farnsworth. He pitched to a 5.88 ERA in 23 games for the Royals for the rest of the 2010 season. He only got in 4 big league games in 2011, pitching to a 10.57 ERA, spending the majority of the season in AAA Omaha, where he served as the team's closer, notching 16 saves in 45 games.
It was the Toronto Blue Jays who toyed with using Chavez as a starting pitcher when they claimed him on waivers after the 2011 season. At that point, Chavez had not been used as a starting pitcher regularly since the 2004 season and had only made one start in the minors (in 2007 in the Pirates organization) in the past 8 years. But Chavez pitched in 19 games, making 17 starts for AAA Las Vegas, going 8-5, 3.98 with an increased strike out to walk rate- 86 Ks in 95 IP. It is also noted that Las Vegas has been a notoriously hitter friendly ball park. He would later appear in 9 games for the Blue Jays, starting 2 of them, but pitched to a 8.55 ERA. The Athletics acquired him in a deal for cash and after pitching in 2 games, 1 start for AAA Sacramento, Chavez appeared in 4 games for the Athletics, but once again did not fair well, giving up 7 earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings.
In 2013, Chavez enjoyed a little bit of a resurgence, pitching in 35 games in relief for the Athletics, going 2-4, 3.92 with 55 Ks in 57 1/3 IP. On June 13th of that season, Chavez had his coming out party in an extra inning game against the New York Yankees. Perhaps this was a sign of things to come, but Chavez entered the game with one out in the 12th inning. He preceded to pitch a total of 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Athletics and got the win in that 18 inning game. Chavez was a help to the Athletics bullpen for the rest of the season though he did not factor into their postseason series against the Detroit Tigers.
The much traveled Chavez was given a chance to make the Athletics rotation due to the loss of Parker to Tommy John surgery and with Griffin starting the season on the DL. He earned it because he was stretched out over the past couple seasons. Lets be honest though, it was only expected to be a temporary situation. Griffin was expected to be out a month- tops. When Griffin's season ended due to TJ, Chavez was kept in the rotation since the Athletics had no other options. He has grabbed the opportunity and run with it, giving the team no chance to think twice. It has been an amazing story, one that has gotten little attention. Especially for a RHP that has been with 7 organizations in the past 8 seasons. I hope he continues to pitch well in the Athletics rotation so more will mention his determination to continue to pitch and work on his craft. If he is making starts in the postseason for the Athletics in 2014, 29 other teams will think of the time in 2011 when they too could have had Chavez for nothing. Props for the Athletics for finding Chavez, the same team that found some way to unearth Bartolo Colon into a pitcher that went 18-6 for them in 2013.