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Chicago Cubs acquire Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez

The Cubs moved to add depth to their bullpen

Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs moved to strengthen their relief corps tonight as they acquired right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez from the Texas Rangers in exchange for minor league left-handed pitcher Ricky Tyler Thomas.

Chavez, 34, joined the Rangers as a free agent this winter. He’s been a starting pitcher three of the past four seasons and has struggled in that role. The Rangers signed Chavez this winter and returned him to the bullpen, where he has thrived. Chavez has gone 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA with one save and three holds. For the Cubs, his biggest appeal is likely his control. This season, he’s struck out 50 and walked only 12 in 56 13 innings.

Chavez is also a pitcher who has been badly hurt by the supercharged hitters’ environment of Globe Life Park. At home, Chavez has allowed a whopping seven home runs in just 28 innings, leading to a 5.14 ERA. On the road, however, Chavez has allowed three in 28 innings and sports an ERA of 1.91. His batting average against at home is .304. Away from Arlington, hitters can only manage a .217 average on Chavez.

Going the other way is South Bend Cubs pitcher Ricky Tyler Thomas, the Cubs seventh-round pick last season. Thomas has turned himself into an interesting prospect this summer, making 14 starts and one relief appearance and going 3-5 with one save and a 2.88 ERA. He’s an interesting arm, but his upside is still probably a major league reliever with a small chance of being a back-of-the-rotation arm.

With Brandon Morrow on the disabled list and the Cubs and with Carl Edwards Jr. having missed time earlier this year with an injury, it’s clear that acquiring a quality right-handed reliever to add depth was important, especially come playoff time. Chavez may not be an exciting name and has the “journeyman” tag, but he’s taken well to the bullpen this year and the price was reasonable.

Finally, it should be noted that some teams like to deal with each other and the Cubs and Rangers front offices clearly feel comfortable talking trade. This is the sixth deal between the two clubs since Theo Epstein was named team president.

Here’s the full press release from the Cubs

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs tonight acquired right-handed pitcher Jesse Chavez from the Texas Rangers for minor league left-handed pitcher Tyler Thomas.

Chavez, 34, is 3-1 with three holds, one save and a 3.51 ERA (22 ER/56.1 IP) in 30 relief appearances with Texas this season. He has walked only 12 while striking out 50 in 56.1 innings, an average of only 1.9 walks per nine innings. He has pitched more than an inning in 18 of his 30 appearances this year, including 2.0 or more innings in exactly half of his outings. Chavez is 2-1 with one save and a 2.35 ERA (10 ER/38.1 IP) in his last 21 appearances starting May 4.

The righthander has spent all or part of 11 seasons in the majors with seven different clubs, going 36-52 with three saves and a 4.61 ERA (409 ER/799.0 IP) in 383 appearances, including 70 starts, with Pittsburgh (2008-09), Atlanta (2010), Kansas City (2010-11), Toronto (2012, 2016), Oakland (2012-15), the Dodgers (2016), the Angels (2017) and the Rangers (2018).

Chavez has pitched exclusively in relief this year after making 21 starts (out of 38 total appearances) with the Angels last year. He pitched solely in relief for the Blue Jays and Dodgers in 2016, combining to make 62 outings.

Thomas, 22, was selected by the Cubs in the seventh round of the 2017 Draft out of Fresno State. He has gone 3-5 with one save and a 2.88 ERA (24 ER/75.0 IP) in 15 appearances, all but one as a starter, this year for Single-A South Bend.

Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 39 players