The A's first round pick of the 1996 draft, Eric Chavez made his professional debut with the Oakland Athletics on September 8, 1998 in a pinch-hit role against the Baltimore Orioles. Over the course of the next 13 seasons "Chavvy" would become the second longest continuous tenured player to wear an Oakland Athletic uniform.
Chavez reached free agency for the first time this offseason when his club option was not picked up by Oakland. After four consecutive seasons in which Chavez spent the majority of the season on the disabled list, there was no doubt that the A's would not exercise his high priced option.
Earlier this week Chavez agreed to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training with the New York Yankees. If he is able to make the team he will spend his time as a backup to Alex Rodriguez at third base as well as backing up first baseman Mark Teixeira and occasionally seeing some at-bats as the designated hitter to spell Jorge Posada.
Oakland A's fans will have their first opportunity to see Chavez in a Yankee uniform up close May 30 to June 1 when the Yankees visit the Oakland Coliseum for their only trip to the Bay Area in 2011. As a lifelong A's fan, I know all too well the temptation that exists to boo anyone wearing the Yankee uniform while playing against the A's. Eric Chavez, however, is not deserving of any negative response from A's fans.
Over his 13-year tenure with Oakland, Chavez gave A's fans everything he was capable of producing. He batted .267 for his A's career with 1276 hits and 230 home runs while setting the standard for defensive third basemen throughout the American League.
Chavez won six consecutive Gold Glove Awards between 2001 to 2006. Chavez also won a Silver Slugger award as an Oakland Athletic in 2002 when he posted a slash line of .275/.348/.513 with 34 home runs and 109 RBI. Chavez finished 14th in MVP voting as a result of this campaign.
Chavez was a key member of the A's playoff runs in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006.
Before injuries derailed his career he was a consistent presence in the A's lineup hitting in the .270 to .280 range while remaining steady with 29 home runs in 2003 and 2004, and 27 home runs in 2005.
The stretch from 2006 to 2010 proved frustrating for Chavez as well as A's fans as he was unable to stay on the field due to several trips to the disabled list. Chavez was finally replaced as the A's No. 1 option at third base last season with the trade for Kevin Kouzmanoff from San Diego. Chavez did his best to stay on the field and help the A's win, and in the end it proved costly for his offensive statistics.
While he never lived up to the contract he was awarded by the Oakland A's following the 2004 season, it certainly was never for lack of effort. Eric Chavez gave his best and everything he could offer to the only professional organization he had ever known.
Yankee stadium is very friendly to left-handed hitters and should provide Chavez with an opportunity to resurrect his once promising career if he is able to remain healthy.
The New York Yankees will likely be only a one-year stop for Chavez if he is able to prove his health over the course of a complete season. The Yankees have Alex Rodriguez entrenched at third base, and Mark Texeira at first base. Chavez will be granted his free agency again next offseason and hopefully compete for a starting position with another team, one in which it will be easier for A's fans to show him support.
For the three-game visit the Yankees make to Oakland this year, A's fans owe Chavez their appreciation. A long standing ovation is owed to Chavez in his first at bat back in the Coliseum, and anything less is completely unacceptable. There are plenty of other Yankees that we can boo.
Eric Chavez's Oakland A's career statistics: