Chavez, D-backs formalize one-year contract
Infielder batted .281 last season with club, provides lefty bat off bench
PHOENIX -- The D-backs finalized a one-year contract with veteran free agent infielder Eric Chavez on Friday.
Chavez, 36, signed a one-year deal as a free agent with Arizona last season and hit .281 with an .810 on-base plus slugging mark in 254 plate appearances.
Re-signing Chavez was a priority for the D-backs, who see him backing up Martin Prado at third and Paul Goldschmidt at first. Chavez also provides a left-handed bat off the bench.
"Our biggest need was a veteran proven guy that could give you a professional at-bat, could play first and third and was left-handed," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said. "We felt he was arguably the best player out there all winter."
Towers said he made an offer to Chavez early in the offseason, but added that Chavez's first priority was to play for a winning team, so he wanted to see what offseason moves the D-backs made before making a decision.
With Chavez's success at the plate, manager Kirk Gibson spoke often about having to resist the temptation to play him too much. At his age and with his injury history, Chavez is best when not used more than two days in a row.
"Probably 250, 275 plate appearances is probably his comfort level," Towers said. "You can't play him back-to-back-to-back days. Maybe two days then give him a couple of days. Probably not a day game after a night game. I think Gibby this year will even know him a little bit better and how to get the most out of him and keep him out on the field."
Chavez is also expected to provide help in the clubhouse.
"Second year being with our organization, I think he'll take on a larger role, a bigger role and become a real leader in our clubhouse," Towers said. "It was a little awkward for him last year because it was only his first year here, but he's a pro. He plays the game the right way and I think he's a good guy to have around some of our younger players."
With Chavez back in the fold, the D-backs are unlikely to add any more bench players, and Towers said he will continue to focus his efforts on landing a frontline starting pitcher, though, that seems like a tall order at this point.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.