Blue Jays and Matt Chapman "have mutual interest" in contract extension
By Dave Litman
He's off to the best start of his career, and has even been in the MVP conversation in these early weeks of the 2023 season. Nice timing for Matt Chapman. The Blue Jays' third baseman extraordinaire and AL Player of the Month for April is set to become a free agent after the season, and if his early comments are any indication, he'd like to stick around.
"Of course," he opines when asked whether he hopes to work out something to stay in Toronto. He told Mitch Bannon of Sports Illustrated. “I know that both parties want to make something happen," Chapman said. "But right now I’m focused on baseball and focused on winning. And if they want to talk, it’s gotta be with Scott.”
Ah yes, Scott. That would be the agent who wields the most power—and the biggest ego—in the sport. Nothing comes easy negotiating with a Scott Boras client, and the Jays better be prepared to pay large to get a deal done.
But as is normally the case with a Boras client, an in-season extension before free agency hits is pretty much off the table. He'll always advise his clients to get to free agency first, where they have the most leverage.
“I trust that his process works and he knows what he’s doing," Chapman said. "I think it’s something that we’ll look back at after the end of this season and then we’ll really start to sit down."
And while the Blue Jays once had a strained relationship with Boras (he once referred to them having the "Blue Flu"), things have thawed considerably over the last five years, and he alone shouldn't be an impediment to getting a deal done. But that doesn't mean it'll be easy.
Chapman will be far and away the top third baseman on the free agent market this fall, so he'll be in heavy demand. The next-best on the list would be... perhaps some guy named Josh Donaldson (though a far cry from the good ol' Josh Donaldson we once knew). Or Joey Wendle, or Brian Anderson. You get the idea. Boras will be breaking someone's bank.
As mentioned at the outset, the timing couldn't be better for Chapman to reach this point. Besides providing his perennial Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base (don't get me started on how he didn't win one last year), his offence has been off the charts. Going into Tuesday night, he's batting an AL-leading .349 with a 1.038 OPS, five homers, 21 RBIs and a major league-leading 17 doubles. He's in the 100th percentile (needless to say, that's as good as it gets) in Average Exit Velocity and Hard-Hit Percentage according to Baseball Savant.
For now, he's saying all the right things. It'll be up to Rogers Communications to make it happen. The Blue Jays can ill afford to lose him.