Oakland’s quick sell-off and the Blue Jays’ aggressive offseason continued Wednesday, as the A’s announced third baseman Matt Chapman had been traded to Toronto in exchange for right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, infielder Left-hander Zach Logue and left-hander Kevin Smith. -hander Kirby Snead.
Acquiring Chapman will give the Blue Jays not only one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, but one of the best defensive players in baseball at any position. Since Chapman’s Major League debut in 2017, his 88 defensive points saved and 47.3 Ultimate Zone rating trail only Mookie Betts and Andrelton Simmons among all major leaguers. Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric largely agrees, ranking him tenth among all big league players, regardless of position, since 2017. Indeed, Chapman has twice been recognized as the best all-around defenseman in the league. the league by being named the winner of the league’s Platinum Glove.
Of course, Chapman is far from a glove-only player. From 2018 to 2019, he was a legitimate MVP contender thanks to his combined offensive and defensive prowess. The former No. 25 draft pick posted a .263/.348/.507 slash with 60 home runs while playing his home games at the cavernous Oakland Coliseum in those two seasons, finishing in the top seven in MVP voting. of the American League on both occasions. .
Chapman’s offensive output has fallen sharply over the past two seasons, largely due to a serious hip injury in 2020 that he struggled through before succumbing to surgery. This procedure both repaired a torn labrum and “cleaned up” the head of his right femur. Even as his production dipped, Chapman still hit for power (37 homers, .216 ISO) and drew plenty of walks (11.4%), but his strikeout rate fell from 22.8% in 2018- 19 to 33.1% in 2020-21. Over the past two seasons, he’s posted a combined .215/.206/.431 batting line.
The Jays are surely betting that Chapman will bounce back to some degree at the plate now that he’s been 18 months away from that September 2020 operation. However, even if he doesn’t return to his 2018-19 MVP caliber levels, the Chapman’s new three-true version was still worth 3.5 wins above the replacement by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs last season. He’s a pronounced upgrade for a Jays team hoping to make a deep playoff run thanks to a dominant offense and rotation that has improved by leaps and bounds in recent seasons.
Chapman’s salary has yet to be settled, as he is eligible for arbitration and did not set a price with the A’s before the lockout. According to projections by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, he will earn $9.5 million this upcoming season and receive another raise for the 2023 campaign before reaching free agency in the 2023-24 offseason. While Jays fans may look to Matt Olson’s quick extension following a trade from Oakland to his hometown Braves, it’s worth pointing out that as a client of Boras Corporation, Chapman seems less likely to follow. this same trajectory. Still, he’ll be locked in as Toronto’s third baseman for at least the next two seasons.
The addition of Chapman pushes Cavan Biggio firmly to second base, where he is better positioned to play defensively. Chapman’s lineup will also play well alongside Bo Bichette, who has drawn mixed reviews for his glove work at shortstop. Statcast notes that Bichette is much stronger on balls hit to his left side than those hit to his right, so getting extra reach from their third baseman will be especially helpful.
It’s worth pointing out that Chapman isn’t an ideal candidate for a Toronto squad that’s almost entirely right-handed. He would give them eight pure right-handed hitters in the starting lineup, with Biggio the only southpaw. That right-hand tilt was part of the reason a potential Freddie Freeman adjustment looked so tempting for the Jays. Technically, this acquisition doesn’t rule out a Freeman signing, but it does negate any speculation that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would return to third base. It’s in the team’s best interests anyway, as Guerrero has never been a solid defensive option in the hot corner. A theoretical addition to Freeman would push Guerrero into a designated hitting role earlier in his career than the Jays would have liked, but that roster’s offensive firepower would still be worth considering. Toronto had been linked with Kyle Schwarber, but he is now tied to Philadelphia after agreeing to a four-year contract with the Phillies.
Upon Oakland’s return, they’ll gain a high-end but distant pitching prospect, Hoglund, and a trio of largely MLB-ready plays in Smith, Logue and Snead. Hoglund was the 19th draft pick in 2021 and might well have been a Top 10 pick if he hadn’t needed Tommy John surgery in last year’s NCAA season. The former Ole Miss ace was widely regarded as one of the best college arms in the draft after hitting a 2.41 ERA with a 39% strikeout rate against a strong 6.1 walk rate %.
Baseball America ranked him fifth among Toronto farmhands, while FanGraphs ranked him No. 3 in the Toronto system. Much of Hoglund’s future hinges on how he recovers from Tommy John surgery, but he had been described as an advanced college arm with a mid-term rotation and a potential fast path to the big leagues .
Smith, 25, is expected to step straight into the opening day lineup for athletics. He went just 3 for 32 in a brief cup of big league coffee at the end of the 2021 season, but that’s overshadowed by a big .285/.370/.561 batting line in Triple-A Last year. Smith, ranked seventh among Jays prospects in BA and 16th in FanGraphs, hit 21 homers, 27 doubles and four triples while making 18 for 21 stolen base attempts in this outstanding Triple-A campaign. BA listed him as the No. 91 prospect of the game in the 2018-19 offseason, and although a poor debut performance in Triple-A dented his stock, last year’s excellent rebound has restored a good confidence in his abilities.
The Jays played Smith primarily at shortstop during his time in Triple-A, but he also had 651 pro innings at third base and 161 working innings at second base. Scouting reports see him as a capable but not elite defender. Given the presence of world defensive prospect Nick Allen in the upper tiers of the Oakland system, it seems entirely possible that Smith’s eventual home with the A’s will be either third base or second base.
As for the two pitchers, Logue has a chance to be in Oakland’s rotation soon. The 25-year-old (26 in April) was Toronto’s ninth-round pick in 2017 and has greatly elevated his status, thanks in part to a strong showing between Double-A and Triple-A last season. In 125 innings between the two levels, Logue notched a 3.67 ERA with a strong strikeout rate of 28.2%, an even better walk rate of 5.3% and a ground ball rate of 38%. The fact that he’s a fly ball pitcher moving to Oakland rather than Toronto’s more batting-friendly Rogers Center can only boost his chances of becoming a quality major league contributor.
Logue ranked 24th among Jays prospects in BA, where he was called one of the “most improved” players in the system in 2021 and touted as a potential starter. FanGraphs ranked him 10th in the Toronto system, praising his more change, plus command and above-average cutter. Scouting reports don’t typically rate Logue as more than a fourth starter, but if he’s able to fulfill that potential, there’s quite a bit of value in the six-plus seasons of a No. 4 starter.
Snead, 27, gives the Aes a piece of the MLB-ready bullpen that made its league debut late in the 21 season. Snead allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a pair of walked with seven strikeouts in his first 7 2/3 innings in the major league last year. It marked a continuation of a stellar Triple-A season, where he notched a 1.58 ERA with a whopping 36.1% strikeout rate, 10.1% walk rate and a 63.3% massive ground ball rate.
Unlike many southpaws, Snead has no problem containing right-handed opponents in 2021. While he was even better against southpaws, who posted a terrible .141/.222/.203 against him (majors and Triple -A handsets), right -handers were equally useless. Even when the hitters held the field advantage, they only got a .186/.278/.245 outing against Snead. He’s been a pure reliever throughout his professional career, but that dominance against right-handers and left-handers alleviates the concerns of specialists and gives him the chance to be a multi-inning option. Snead has pitched 236 1/3 innings in 186 minor league appearances, so he’s no stranger to working more than one inning at a time.
Trading an All-Star third baseman to the Blue Jays for a four-man package consisting of three largely MLB-ready plays and a more distant but high-potential prospect won’t do much to stifle the comparisons to the 2014 blockbuster Josh Donaldson. That trade, which brought Franklin Barreto, Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin to Oakland, didn’t go as the front office had hoped, but today’s trade today is a distinct deal, despite some uncanny similarities. The A’s have added a noticeable influx of talent to their system, and Chapman’s return in particular showcases the largest crop of MLB-ready talent they’ve picked up in their offseason deals so far.
The Chapman trade marks the latest step in dismantling a roster that was largely predictable but nonetheless daunting for the fan base. Chapman is tracking fan favorites Olson and Chris Bassitt, and Oakland is unlikely to stop their purge with those three. Left-hander Sean Manaea, a free agent at the end of the season, looks almost certain to be traded. Right-hander Frankie Montas, center fielder Ramon Laureano and reliever Lou Trivino all have several more seasons in control of the club, but could still change hands. Montas, in particular, has been the target of throwing-hungry clubs. Looking ahead, it’s not really a question of whether any of these players will to be traded – but rather one of those who will be the next to go.
Former All-Star second baseman Carlos Baerga first posted on Instagram that a trade deal was in place. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reported on Oakland’s return for Chapman (Twitter link).