3 Blue Jays pending free agents who should be brought back and 1 who should not

As free agency approaches at the end of the season, who should the Blue Jays bring back and who should be let go?

Kevin Kiermaier, Whit Merrifield
Kevin Kiermaier, Whit Merrifield / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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One player who should not be coming back

Matt Chapman

Finally, in the case of Jays’ third baseman Matt Chapman, he certainly had the best start ever to the season for his career. Chapman was quite literally unstoppable for pretty much the whole calendar month of April, resulting in his capture of both AL Player of the Week and AL Player of the Month honours. His spectacular start had the Jays both happy and worried at the same time. They were happy since Chapman was leading the team to many victories, but worried because at the rate he was going, he was most likely going to price himself out of town by the end of the season when he hits free agency.

Unfortunately, ever since May rolled around, Chapman has fallen back to earth and has been pretty much just average for the rest of the season up until now. There’s no doubt he can still deliver Gold Glove-caliber defence on the field, as shown by his 11 DRS on the season. However, his lack of production for the rest of the season has left a lot to be desired, especially from a power-hitting, run-producing player like Chapman. For the year, he has hit a respectable .249 with a .770 OPS, along with 61 runs scored, 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 50 RBI. All of the numbers seem impressive, but at this rate, he is actually currently on pace for his lowest home run and RBI totals since his rookie season back in 2017. Even more worrisome is the fact that if you take away his torrid start in April, Chapman’s accumulated stats line prior to Saturday’s game looks like this: .210/.300/.361/.661 with 44 runs scored, 10 home runs, 28 RBI, 42 walks and 121 strikeouts in 96 games played.

Looking ahead to the available crop of third baseman for the 2023-24 free agent class, Chapman is by far the best option available, with everyone else a distant second or beyond. As a result, there will no doubt be a bidding war for his services, given his defensive prowess and despite his inconsistent power production at the plate. However, if his production since May is any indication of what he will provide the Jays with regards to offence in the coming years, then there are certainly some huge red flags that have been raised. As a result, he may not provide the full value of the projected contract that he will get.

In addition, if the Jays intend to give top prospects such as Addison Barger and Orelvis Martinez a shot at the big leagues in the near future, Chapman will need to go. That is because if Chapman is signed to a long-term contract, which is what has been predicted by many experts, there won’t be a spot open on the left side of the infield for nearly the next decade with Bo Bichette firmly at shortstop and also expected to be extended to a long-term deal. In addition, the amount of money to keep Chapman in Toronto would probably prevent the team from addressing any other needs during the offseason, as the deal with no doubt exhaust most of the team’s resources in one shot. As a result, it may be a wise move for the Jays to pass on Chapman in free agency, as much as it may hurt to lose him for nothing.