All eyes in the baseball world will be on the Chicago Cubs this trade deadline. After their disastrous 11-game skid, Jed Hoyer has finally admitted this team will likely be sellers at the deadline. For as much attention as Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Craig Kimbrel get in trade rumors, the team has one other extremely valuable asset that could find a place on just about any contender.
Andrew Chafin is the perfect combination of what a lot of teams could look for in terms of bullpen help: he’s on a cheap contract with a mutual option, left-handed, and absolutely dominant. In 38 innings this year, he’s posted a stellar 1.42 ERA with a FIP of 2.61 and a WHIP of 0.737. Numbers-wise, he’s pitching around Liam Hendriks’ level only from the left side and with fewer strikeouts.
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The advanced stats back up Chafin’s performance as well. Chafin sits near the top of the league in about every important category outside of fastball spin and velocity. Most impressive of his rankings are his xERA and xwOBA, both of which place in the 97th percentile in all of baseball. Chafin isn’t getting that lucky, he’s just quietly destroying batters behind one of the best closers in baseball.
Chicago Cubs: Andrew Chafin might be the best lefty trade asset in the game
On the trade market, I honestly believe right now that Chafin is the best lefty reliever a team could find. There’s an argument to be made for Taylor Rogers of the Twins given his guaranteed extra year of control and insane strikeout rate, but this year, I would take Chafin. You’re simply not going to find a lefty reliever with the verifiable success of Chafin right now and that is absolutely huge for the Cubs.
Lefty relief help is also a position that should be in high demand. A brief look at some current competitors shows just how many need help from that side of the mound. The Toronto Blue Jays, for example, have a bullpen wracked with injuries and only two lefties that haven’t given them the best production. The Red Sox could use a third lefty to shore up their relief corps. The Houston Astros only have one healthy lefty in their bullpen.
For all the attention the core players and Kimbrel are getting, Chafin deserves to be mentioned among them. There are so many teams that should be vying for his services and the Cubs could receive a nice return for him. He might not have the name recognition, but he deserves the respect of a big-ticket trade asset.