Might the Rockies explore trading Chacin? Image: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Search For "Proven Pitchers" And Jhoulys Chacin


With the Winter Meetings underway, we are finally getting a chance to see exactly how the Colorado Rockies might try to pursue improvement in the pitching department. Besides the predictable batch of free agent pitchers on the level of Kevin Correia or Jeff Francis, there are murmurs of potential trades that could be explored. These rumors have been centered around the Rockies’ surplus of talent in the outfield and the options of moving Michael Cuddyer or Dexter Fowler.

Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that Bill Geivett said that the team is looking for “proven pitching” in any trade. Presumably he provided that distinction to make it clear that the Rockies are not interested in huge packages of unproven talent, even if they contain top pitching prospects. Geivett’s logic, which actually makes sense in this case, is that the team already has a number of top pitching prospects whom they are developing. An example of a proven pitcher would be Homer Bailey, a name that surfaced in a widely spread possible deal with the Cincinnati Reds.

What does that make Jhoulys Chacin?

At the bottom of his piece in the Denver Post this morning, Troy Renck notes that there is “lobby buzz” about a possible trade involving Chacin (the team says they are not considering such an option). But if they did, what would that entail? Is he considered a proven or unproven pitcher, as a trade chip or otherwise?

Chacin has two seasons of substantial Major League work. In 2010 he made 21 starts, went 9-11 and logged a 3.28 ERA over 137.1 IP. In 2011 he made 31 starts, went 11-14 and logged a 3.62 ERA over an impressive 194 IP. That would seem to indicate a pitcher who is proven and still has lots of productive seasons ahead of him.

But then you look at other factors with Chacin. He is still only 24 years old. The organization has hinted at problems with his maturity and work ethic, with general manager Dan O’Dowd accusing him of being fat out of shape as recently as last off-season. Chacin then missed a huge chunk of the 2012 season due to a strange pectoral injury. Those might all point to somebody who is an unproven talent.

Did Chacin do enough in his 14 starts to once again be considered a “proven” pitcher? If he is, why should the Rockies even consider a trade? If he is not, do they expect to get proven pitching from a team willing to gamble on Chacin’s unproven upside? If the Rockies did get serious about trading Chacin, they would try to prove their ability to part with pitchers at the right moment.

It is hard for me to believe that a 24 year old starter, a guy the Rockies rushed to the show 3 years ago, is already at the point where they should try to “trade high”  and maximize his value. Even if he is considered proven, would this be considered “trading high?” Whether it was only lobby buzz or not, any mention of a Chacin trade raises even more questions about just what the heck the Rockies think they are going to do to fix their atrocious starting rotation.

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