Blue Jays: What should the club do with Matt Chapman?

Evan Gignac
Sep 20, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26)
Sep 20, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
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The third baseman of the Toronto Blue Jays, Matt Chapman, has quickly found himself revered in the Blue Jays clubhouse for his leadership and work ethic. This should come as no surprise, as he was one of the leaders on the Oakland Athletics before their regularly scheduled dismantling.

These intangibles, along with a productive season on the field, begs the question of his future with the organization. Chapman is a free agent after this year, so what should the Blue Jays have in mind?

Needless to say, keeping Chapman is the best option available. Players like him don’t grow on trees, as the ability to be above average with the bat (a career 119 OPS+) and continuously be a Gold Glove caliber defender is a skill set desired by almost every organization. Entering his age 30 season, Chapman is in the middle of his prime, and after a strong first season in Toronto there’s plenty of reason to believe there’s a few more years of production in him.

Along with solid baseline stats, the peripherals on Chapman suggest he could be even better on the surface level. Ranking in the 93rd percentile in average exit velocity, as well in the 98th percentile in chase rate, it’s clear Chapman brings a mature, offensive presence to this lineup who consistently barrels baseballs. The defensive metrics weren’t as kind to him as previous seasons, but these can be attributed to Chapman’s abilities while playing in the shift.

It’s clear Chapman is productive and an asset to this current roster. However, the thought of extending a player in his 30s, while having not secured an extension with any of the young talent on the team is worrying. This then brings up the question as to whether or not the team could manage without Chapman. We saw what not having a real third baseman could do to this roster, as in 2021 they relied on an exposed Cavan Biggio and later on an unproven Santiago Espinal, to mixed results. This time around, there are two legitimate prospects worthy of a look.

The first being Orelvis Martinez. Known for his heroic antics the past two Spring Trainings, Martinez is a shortstop and third baseman with immense power in his bat, with his 30 home runs breaking the New Hampshire Fisher Cats record last season. Massive holes still exist in his game however, as he is very prone to strikeouts and hasn’t found much consistency in his short minor league career.

The other prospect is a newcomer in Addison Barger. Barger soared through the minors last year, starting in High-A Vancouver before finishing in Triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons. The former sixth-round pick destroyed all pitching during last regular season, finishing with a .933 OPS to go with 26 home runs while playing around the infield. Both of these prospects require further development, as both are still young and are prone to strikeouts. Still, the ceilings of these two should be an impact third baseman capable of contributing to an already dangerous lineup. 

Chapman presents a dilemma to the Jays front office. Keeping his on field performance and intangibles would be huge to a young Jays team, however that brings the worry of further spending money on a player entering his thirties while the organization hasn’t retained their young stars at this point. With the prospects available to take over third base, this should be an interesting storyline to watch towards the end of 2023.

Personally, I'm unsure of what I'd prefer. In perfect world, no one regresses and everyone stays together forever, but that isn't how baseball works. I'd love to hear what you all think!

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