Chicago Cubs: A sneaky reunion with Andrew Chafin makes perfect sense

(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

While we all sit here twiddling our thumbs as the MLB lockout rages on, there’s still plenty to be crossed off the to-do list of the Chicago Cubs before Opening Day.

Adding impact bats remains a possibility, particularly when it comes to Carlos Correa, but that alone won’t drastically alter the trajectory of this club in 2022. The rotation is in a much stronger spot than a year ago, but the bullpen is raw and could use some stabilizing veteran presences added into the mix.

Luckily, a pair of former Cubs relievers are still available in free agency, although one figures to be in high demand in Ryan Tepera. The right-hander dominated early last year on the North Side, then continued to do so after a midseason trade to the White Sox. Teams that don’t want to pony up for Kenley Jansen could quickly pivot to Tepera.

Meanwhile, it’s been awfully quiet on the Andrew Chafin front. The 31-year-old left-hander is coming off a brilliant 2021 campaign he split between Chicago and Oakland, making 71 appearances and working to a 1.83 ERA, 2.98 FIP and 0.932 WHIP.

I don’t think anybody expects him to replicate that degree of success in 2022, but he still figures to be a reliable bullpen presence all the same. Baseball Reference has him projected for a 3.34 ERA, 1.177 WHIP and 2.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio this year. Given the uncertainties the Cubs face in the bullpen, even those numbers would be welcome.

Chicago Cubs need more left-handed depth in the bullpen

Chicago has just three left-handers outside of Wade Miley on the 40-man at this point: Brailyn Marquez, Justin Steele and Brad Wieck. Marquez will likely open the year at Triple-A Iowa after missing the entire 2021 season due to COVID and a shoulder strain. Seeing how he bounces back from that injury could go a long way toward figuring out what role he’ll play moving forward.

Steele seems like a logical swing man candidate for third-year manager David Ross and Wieck will hopefully come back at 100 percent from his second heart surgery. The big southpaw has noted on social media he’s feeling good and his return could be huge for the team.

All this to say there’s plenty of room for a proven commodity like Chafin in the bullpen mix. He’s familiar with Ross, loved playing in Chicago and could help mentor the team’s young relievers – something the club was very pleased with during his first go-round on the North Side.

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The money’s there. The need is there. And we could all use more Andrew Chafin – Obvious Shirts team-ups.