Blue Jays continue quest to be “in on” entire MLB, now pursuing division rival 3B

Add yet another name to the list. The question is, Chapman or Paredes?
Sep 2, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Isaac Paredes (17) throws to first
Sep 2, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Isaac Paredes (17) throws to first / David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit

In the early days of the 2023-2024 offseason, a common theme has become clear. Fresh off of a disappointing playoff exit at the hands of the Twins, the Toronto Blue Jays are "in on" every single player on the free agent and trade markets.

As so many have said before me, every contending teams is "in" on every impact player. That's just how it goes. Teams with World Series aspirations must check in on a talent like Shohei Ohtani or Juan Soto. Both players have already been confirmed as targets of the Blue Jays this offseason (see note above about them being "in" on everybody).

With third baseman Matt Chapman still out there on the free agent market, the Blue Jays have a bit of a black hole at the hot corner. Internal candidates include Davis Schneider and his so-so throwing arm, Cavan Biggio and his streaky bat and Santiago Espinal, who provides little to no value at this point.

Beyond them, prospects Orelvis Martinez and Addison Barger are knocking on the door, but neither appear to be fully ready for a spot on the 2024 Opening Day roster. Ernie Clement and Otto Lopez are also on the roster but don't seem to be obvious candidates to swipe a starting gig.

MLB insider Jon Morosi, who loves to fan the flames on Blue Jays rumors, shared on X that the Blue Jays are one of a few teams interested in trading for Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Isaac Paredes.

Paredes, 24, is only just wrapping up his second full season in the big leagues. This past year, he finished 18th in the AL MVP voting after a strong performance in which he hit 31 home runs and drove in 98 in 143 games. His 131 OPS+ puts him at 31 percent above league-average with the bat, which would make him a rather large offensive upgrade over Chapman, whose 108 OPS+ in 2023 was massively carried by a hot month of April.

Paredes' Baseball Savant page suggests that he would be more of a Chapman-level bat than his surface numbers initially indicate. He never whiffed, rarely struck out and drew a ton of walks, but there are virtually no metrics to suggest that he hits the ball all that hard - despite the fact that he hit over 30 home runs.

Here's a look at where Paredes ranked last year, as well as Chapman's percentiles.

STAT

PERCENTILE (Paredes)

PERCENTILE (Chapman)

xwOBA

35th

65th

xBA

16th

16th

xSLG

17th

71st

Avg Exit Velocity

13th

98th

Barrel %

26th

98th

Hard-Hit %

6th

100th

Sweet-Spot %

28th

28th

Suddenly, it doesn't seem like Paredes, who is younger and still under team control for many years to come, would be much of a true upgrade over Chapman. Watching Chappy play last year was extremely frustrating at times, but he remained an elite defender and was good for some promising hot streaks at the dish.

On defense, Paredes has spent time at first base, second base and third base. He doesn't rate out as anywhere close to an average defender thanks to a suspect throwing arm and below-average range.

At this point, the only thing that makes Paredes more attractive than Chapman is the fact that he's likely still got some untapped potential in his game. This year was his first of arbitration eligibility and he's not set to become a free agent until the conclusion of the 2027 season. With Chapman, it's easy to know by now that what you see is what you get. Acquiring Paredes would be more a leap of faith type of move than anything for the Jays.

This is without mentioning that the Rays may not exactly jump at the idea of sending away one of their sluggers to a division rival.

As many have said for years now, if the Rays are either targeting one of your low-minors guys or actively shopping one of their big league players, there's a reason for it. Tampa has long had one of the very best player development staffs in the game, so if Paredes is being dangled in trade talks, they must realize that his statistics were not at all backed up by the under-the-hood metrics. The Blue Jays would be wise to proceed with caution in this instance.