To call Eric Chavez a sunk cost doesn't come close to describing how bad the long-term contract Chavez signed with Oakland worked out for the A's. Consider if you will that Chavez earned $44 million of the A's money for the last four years and was able to contribute 292 plate appearances in that time span. Long gone were the days where he was an All Star and perennial in the top 20 in MVP voting. This wasn't exactly like the Barry Zito deal with the Giants. At least Zito was contributing somewhere close to league average on a regular basis. Chavez was able to provide nothing. The nightmare for the A's (and the Fan supposes, for Chavez) was more similar to the Carl Pavano deal the Yankees made several years ago.
This Fan took to calling the player's sunk cost, "The Real Chavez Ravine." Every year, there would be some sort of hope that Chavez would be able to get on the field for the team. But the sad reality is that they were better off when he didn't play. His combined slash line for the last three seasons was .212/.265/.317. But there is more to this story than just the past three years of nothingness. The three seasons prior the last three featured a player who barely mustered league average in his plate appearances and tailed off dramatically in the field. So if you add all that up, that is three years of league average and three years of nothingness (a total of six years) at a cost of $67 million dollars.
From 2001 to 2004, Chavez was a very good player playing on a very good team. He averaged 32 homers a year. Over that span he averaged a 128 OPS+. His best season was 2004 when he finished with a 134 OPS+ and walked 95 times. It was right after that season that his salary went from $5.5 million to $8.5 million and his salary has risen every year since. But he was never again better than league average after 2004.
Many will speculate over the reasons for the timing of his swoon and for the nagging quality of his injuries since. But this Fan won't go there. But one fact is evidently clear: The A's got hosed on this deal.
But it's finally over. In one of the most overlooked stories of month, the A's declined the 2011 option on Chavez. The A's are finally free and can move on with their strategies without the anchor the contract placed on the team. And finally, the Oakland A's fans have to find something else to gnash their teeth about (not that this writer could blame them).