Detroit Tigers’ Andrew Chafin intends to decline 2023 player option, becomes a free agent

Detroit Free Press

If the Detroit Tigers want him, they’ll have to get him again on the open market.

Left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin plans to decline his 2023 player option, worth $6.5 million plus a $500,000 signing bonus, and become a free agent this offseason, according to a source with knowledge to the situation. The Tigers could re-sign Chafin, who is seeking a multi-year contract, but there are other areas of the roster to fix ahead of next season.

Official option decisions aren’t due until five days after the conclusion of the World Series. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop has an opt-out clause in his contract and intends to return to the Tigers for the final season of his contract in 2023.

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In 2022, Chafin dominated in his role as a high-leverage reliever.

The 32-year-old posted a 2.83 ERA with 19 walks and 67 strikeouts over 57⅓ innings in 64 outings this season. He earned the favor and trust of manager A.J. Hinch while proving himself as a viable option in nearly every situation. Opponents hit .085 with one home run and a 60.4% swing-and-miss rate against his slider.

His 0.9 fWAR ranked second — behind Joe Jiménez (1.4 fWAR) — among pitchers in the Tigers’ bullpen.

“There’s no point in jumping to any conclusions with this,” Chafin said Oct. 4, one day before the season ended. “I’ve got plenty of time before a decision has to be made one way or the other. Right now, I’m just going to focus on this last series, get home, unwind a little bit, get some information together and try to make the best decision we can.”

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Chafin, set to be a free agent for the third consecutive offseason, is one of the most durable and proven relievers on the market, working more than 70 games in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. His combined 4.9 fWAR ranks 19th among 114 relievers with at least 200 innings since 2017.

The Tigers — operating under former general manager Al Avila — shopped Chafin at the 2022 trade deadline in early August, but they didn’t receive offers that lined up with their asking price. The Tigers believed Chafin would accept his player option if not traded, and meanwhile, opposing teams wouldn’t budge from their two-month rental-like offers.

Chafin, however, was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Chicago Cubs in August 2020, then from the Cubs to the Oakland Athletics in July 2021. After the 2021 season, the Athletics and Chafin had to decide on a $5.25 million mutual option. He initially received the mutual option from the Cubs as part of a one-year, $2.25 million contract.

The Athletics accepted their half of the option, but Chafin declined and entered free agency.

He signed with the Tigers in March 2022 and earned $5.5 million (plus a $500,000 signing bonus) this season.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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