Last offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays signed Marcus Semien to a one-year prove-it deal. That couldn’t have gone much better for the Jays as he hit 45 home runs and was a top-three MVP finisher. The only downside was that it was a one-year deal. Semien just cashed in on a monster seven-year pact with the Rangers, leaving a big hole for the Jays to fill.
Without Semien, the Jays still had the makings of a formidable lineup with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Teoscar Hernandez leading the way. However, they did have a bit of a hole in their infield.
Bichette and Guerrero Jr. are locks, and Cavan Biggio seemed destined to have a big role either at second base or third base. The question was if the Jays trusted Santiago Espinal to have an everyday role at third. The answer to that question was no, as the Blue Jays acquired Oakland Athletics third baseman, Matt Chapman, in a big trade earlier today.
Despite giving up some big prospect capital, the Blue Jays hit a home run acquiring Matt Chapman from the Athletics.
Jose Ramirez in my opinion was the perfect fit for this team as he is a switch hitter and is a player I consider to be the best third baseman in all of baseball in addition to his very cheap money. However, I will assume the Indians were (rightfully so) asking for the farm for him.
The next best option was Chapman, and the Jays got him. He might not be the offensive threat Ramirez is, but he does provide positive value at the plate. He is coming off of a down year in which he slashed just .210/.314/.403 with 27 home runs and 72 RBI but he did post a 101 WRC+ which puts him a tick above average at the plate.
In his last two full seasons in 2018 and 2019, he has a WRC+ of 139 and 125 respectively. He has 30+ home run potential, and in the American League East, we can reasonably think about 40.
While Chapman has potential at the plate, he won’t be asked to be an MVP caliber hitter. He’s going to hit something like fifth, sixth, or seventh in this loaded Jays lineup so as long as he’s an average to above-average hitter, the Jays do well in this trade.
The reasoning behind that is Chapman’s glove. He is probably the best defensive third baseman I have ever seen. He’s very fun to watch in the field. His defense should make the entire team including the pitchers and other infielders just that much better.
Chapman has won three Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves in his five-year career. Even with his down year with the bat, he was still a 3.5 bWAR player. That is thanks in large part to his ridiculous glove.
To get something you have to give something, and the Jays did that. They traded prospects Gunnar Hoglund, Kevin Smith, Zach Logue, and Kirby Snead. This package is not nothing, but it’s nothing too crazy. Hoglund is the one that stings the most as he was the Jays 19th overall pack in this past draft and the #4 prospect in the Jays system and their best pitching prospect according to MLB.com.
Smith has pretty decent potential and was the ninth-ranked prospect in the Jays system but he’s an infielder who was blocked by Bo Bichette and now Chapman as well. The Jays also have two other infield prospects who are ranked higher. Logue and Snead are left-handed pitchers who are not super highly touted. Logue was ranked number 27 in the Jays system and Snead wasn’t ranked.
Overall, the Jays gave up two top-ten prospects and two alright depth pieces. The farm system takes a slight hit, but the top prospects are still there. The Jays are a team that is going all in, and Chapman makes them just that much better. What was probably an A offseason became an A+ offseason thanks to this trade, and the Jays have pretty clearly positioned themselves to be the team to beat in the American League East.