He’s back! Jesse Chavez set to begin fifth stint with Braves

The Braves have signed Jesse Chavez to a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training … on the second to last day of camp.

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The Braves have signed Jesse Chavez to a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training … on the second to last day of camp.

Could Opening Day really get here without Jesse Chavez and the Braves finding their way back to one another?

On Monday, the Braves announced they signed Chavez — who was released by the White Sox — to a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training ... on the second-to-last day of camp. Chavez, of course, is familiar with Atlanta: He pitched for the Braves in 2010, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

“Words can’t express how I feel right now,” Chavez told media in North Port, including Bally Sports South and Southeast. “There are so many emotions going on with how I feel about Braves Country. It’s really tough. It dates back to the group that I had in 2010 when I was a young pup. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that group. Watching (manager Bobby Cox’s) last year, and being able to see that, listen to him, watch how he went about his business, watch how everybody else went about their business. That’s where it started. And I’ll forever be grateful for that team, because (without) what I learned that year, I don’t think I’m around until today – or even, I’d say, four or five years after that.”

After signing Chavez and releasing Penn Murfee, the Braves have 28 men in camp. But it’s technically 27, because one of them, Angel Perdomo, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready for the start of the season.

Monday and Tuesday are the final days of Braves spring training. But the Braves know Chavez well.

To this point, it appeared Jackson Stephens would be the long man out of the bullpen. But the 40-year-old Chavez profiles well for that same role, and now he’s competing for a spot on the roster.

This doesn’t mean Chavez would take Stephens’ spot if the Braves wanted to carry both of them. If a reliever came down with an injury (though that doesn’t appear to have happened), Chavez could take that spot. Or perhaps Atlanta would option lefty Dylan Lee. To be clear: These are only theories, and we’ll need to wait to see how it all shakes out.

But it doesn’t appear the Braves would need to put Chavez on the Opening Day roster to keep him. Chavez is a non-roster invitee in camp, so he can be “reassigned” to minor-league camp and begin the season in the minors if he doesn’t break camp with the big club.

The 40-man roster won’t be an issue. The Braves have three open spots and could create more by putting injured players, like Ian Anderson, on the 60-day injured list.

In seven innings in spring games for the White Sox, Chavez allowed 10 runs — nine of them earned. Perhaps this shouldn’t be concerning, as he always seems to perform better for the Braves.

Including 2021, Chavez has a 2.14 ERA over 123⅓ innings while wearing a Braves uniform. Since the start of 2019, Chavez has posted a 6.97 ERA over 111⅓ innings while pitching for other teams.

In 2023, Chavez began the season by notching a 1.56 ERA over 34⅔ innings for Atlanta. In June, he suffered a microfracture in his left shin after getting hit by a comebacker. It derailed his season and he didn’t make the postseason roster.

Now, Chavez has the chance to pitch for the Braves in a fifth different major-league season.

Could Act 5 be as good as the others?

We’ll soon find out.