Cubs bring back veteran reliever Chavez on minors deal


MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs are bringing back popular right-hander Jesse Chavez this season to help provide veteran leadership for a young bullpen.

Chavez, 38, delivered a 1.15 ERA and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 32 games for the playoff-bound Cubs in 2018 after a deadline trade from the Rangers.

He returned to Rangers as a free agent the following season. And last year, after spending the first half of the season for the Braves at Triple-A, he spent the rest of the season on the World Series champs’ roster — with a 2.14 ERA and a 9.6/9 strikeout rate in 30 games (best since his Cubs stint).

“I was kind of on a high after the season last year and then you kind of get stuck in no-man’s land for a few months,” said Chavez, who arrived in camp Sunday after agreeing to the one-year minor-league/split contract that includes the invitation to big-league camp. “And then all of a sudden, it has to pick up right away where you’re just like, ‘All right where’s it going to go?’

“Me and my family had a few talks, and the ladies chose this one.”

Chavez didn't have talks before the lockout, he said, but zeroed in on the Cubs quickly afterward because of his comfort level with the team and the players he had developed relationships with.

And one other attraction:

"The chance," he said. "To win."

Chavez didn’t allow a run in seven postseason appearances, including two in the World Series, last year — his only playoff appearances since a scoreless inning during the Cubs’ wild-card loss to the Rockies in 2018.

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