The Blue Jays successfully replaced Matt Chapman with their own two-headed monster

IKF and Clement have outperformed Chapman at the hot corner this year, at less than half the cost.
San Francisco Giants v Cleveland Guardians
San Francisco Giants v Cleveland Guardians / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

As the Toronto Blue Jays continue their west coast swing against the 44-47 San Francisco Giants — who are still in the National League Wild Card hunt only 3.5 games back — fans will get a close up look at old friend Matt Chapman.

The now 31-year-old Chapman spent two seasons in Toronto, helping the team to the postseason both years with a combined 44 home runs and 130 RBI, to go with a slash line of .234/.327/.429/.756 and OPS+ of 112.

But it was defence where he truly shined, posting a combined DRS of +14 to lead all American League third basemen. He was awarded the 2023 AL Gold Glove at 3B after being a finalist in 2022, when Ramón Urías of the Orioles won.

After turning down the Blue Jays’ $20.325M qualifying offer last November, Chapman signed a three-year, $54M deal with the Giants. He’s making $20M this year, and would make $18M next year and $16M in 2026, with opt outs in both 2024 and 2025.

He’s also effectively betting on himself after apparently turning down the Blue Jays’ previous six-year, $120M offer. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported it was a $125M contract offer. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table, which may help to explain why Chapman is having such a strong rebound season ahead of a potential opt out after 2024.

He’s put up an outstanding 3.6 bWAR this season, with 12 home runs and 42 RBI, numbers that would place him 2nd in both categories behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on the Blue Jays. His defence continues to be outstanding: he leads all third basemen with a DRS of +6.

But don’t despair Blue Jays fans. In a rare move that has been an obvious win for Toronto in this difficult 2024 season, the two-headed third base monster of Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ernie Clement has actually outplayed Chapman to date.

They’ve combined for a bWAR of 4.1 to Chapman’s 3.6; and, in 664.2 innings combined at 3B, they’ve teamed up for a +9 DRS compared to Chappy’s +6 over 770.2 innings played. All of that production on both sides of the ball has only cost Toronto $8.25M versus the $20M San Francisco will pay Chapman, assuming he opts out after the season. They’re also younger: Kiner-Falefa is 29-years old, and Clement is 28.

But IKF and Clement also give the Blue Jays much more defensive flexibility: Kiner-Falefa, who is currently on the injured with a knee sprain, has also played 246.2 innings at 2B, and 105 innings at shortstop. Clement can also play short and second, and they can both play the outfield in a pinch as well. Chapman plays exclusively at 3B.

They’ve also combined for 11 home runs and 47 RBI compared to Chapman’s 12 and 42, respectively. So take the win Blue Jays fans. IKF and Clement have outperformed Matt Chapman at the hot corner this year, at less than half of the cost.

That frees up money for the Blue Jays to extend a homegrown talent like Guerrero, Bo Bichette or Danny Jansen, or maybe lefty Yusei Kikuchi should they prioritise pitching depth for 2025 over prospects in trade deadline deals at the end of this month. In a season short on positives, this is surely one.