The Toronto Blue Jays continue their quest to put together a contending team for the 2022 season. The team’s latest move came Wednesday morning when they acquired Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman from the Oakland A’s.
A Tale of Two Chapmans
During his five seasons in Oakland, there seemed to be two different Matt Chapmans. During his rookie year in 2017, the third baseman flashed his ability to hit the ball hard and in the air. Through 84 games, he recorded 24 barrels in just 200 batted ball attempts. Chapman laid a strong foundation in his rookie season and was able to build on that success in 2018 and 2019. After that, however, Chapman posted career lows across the board in 2020 and 2021.
To be fair, Chapman missed half of the pandemic-shortened season in 2020 due to season-ending hip surgery. Over his 37 games in 2020, his walk rate plummeted to 5.3% while his strikeout rate ballooned to 35.5%. When Chapman was hitting well, those numbers went in the opposite direction.
Which offensive version of the 2019 All-Star will show up in Toronto remains to be seen, but Chapman is at his best when he drives the ball to all fields with authority. In 2018 and 2019, Chapman’s HardContact% was among the best in the league; in 2021, among the worst.
Beyond his offensive profile, which should get a boost leaving the Oakland Coliseum, the Blue Jays are getting one of the best defensive players in baseball. Chapman won the American League Gold Glove Award at third base in 2018, 2019, and 2021. He also won the AL Platinum Gold Glove Award in 2018 and 2019, given to the best overall defender in each league.
Oakland’s Return for Chapman
Gunnar Hoglund was Toronto’s first round draft pick in 2021. The right-handed pitcher was a top ten draft prospect but fell to Toronto at 19th after to undergoing Tommy John Surgery in May. Although he has yet to make his professional debut, Hoglund should supplement his mid-90s fastball with a plus slider and impressive command.
Rounding out the rest of the prospect package is shortstop Kevin Smith and left-handed pitchers Zach Logue and Kirby Snead. In 2021, Smith showed improvements in his plate discipline and his ability to barrel up balls before earning a cup of coffee in the big leagues. On the mound, Logue has a changeup that gets a lot of whiffs and has shown good command. While he looks to wind up as a starter, Snead projects as a reliever with an above-average slider.
What’s Next for Each Team?
Toronto is going all-in on 2022. Although they didn’t re-sign 2021’s AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, they did ink pitchers Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, and Yimi García. Chapman will join an already lethal lineup that includes Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, and Teoscar Hernández.
Oakland is also going all-in, but on their latest fire sale. They’ve already traded first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta and pitcher Chris Bassitt to the New York Mets. Other players linked to trade rumors are pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas, and centerfielder Ramón Laureano.
(Photo by Icon Sportswire) / Adapted by Shawn Palmer (@PalmerDesigns_ on Twitter)