History has a funny way of repeating itself.
In November 2014, the Toronto Blue Jays traded four players for a 28-year-old All-Star third baseman from the Oakland Athletics, by the name of Josh Donaldson.
A little over seven years later, the Blue Jays have once again flipped four players for a 28-year-old All-Star third baseman. It’s Blue Jays déjà vu all over again.
The Blue Jays scooped up the best defensive third baseman in the game by landing Matt Chapman from the A’s. Defensively and position-wise, Chapman was arguably the best fit for this Blue Jays team.
Matt Chapman gives his initial thoughts on being traded to Toronto: pic.twitter.com/1WDUIlP2qU
— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) March 16, 2022
They desperately needed a legitimate everyday third baseman, and they found one with Chapman. His resume includes three Gold Glove awards, two Platinum Glove awards (awarded to the best overall defender in the league), and one All-Star selection.
Since the Blue Jays traded Donaldson in August 2018, they’ve sorely lacked some defensive stability at the hot corner. Looking at Fielding Bible’s defensive runs saved metric, Blue Jays third basemen amassed -12 DRS since the start of the 2018 season. Meanwhile, Chapman alone has 63 defensive runs saved. The 28-year-old is at the top of his class in the defensive department.
Of all the players on the trade or free agent market, Matt Chapman was arguably the best fit for the Blue Jays defensively and position-wise. Not a left-handed bat, but he's a massive upgrade at the hot corner.
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) March 16, 2022
The bulk of his value is stems from his glove, but Chapman has some pop with the bat as well. His career-high 36 home runs in 2019 helped earn him a sixth place finish in the American League MVP voting.
At the plate, he’s a low-OBP hitter with a lot of swing and miss (averaging 181 strikeouts a season since his 2017 debut), but keep in mind his power numbers should get a boost moving from the cavernous confines of Oakland Coliseum to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
The former Athletic joins a ferocious lineup that led MLB in home runs last year, while posting the fewest strikeouts among all 30 teams. So another 200 strikeouts from Chapman doesn’t seem like much of a concern, so long as he can recapture that 30+ home run power in his bat.
The funny thing is Chapman might only be the sixth-best hitter in this lineup that has three-All Stars from last year and a former World Series MVP in George Springer. Chapman will likely slot into the five or six slot in the Blue Jays batting order come Opening Day.
Chapman comes with two years of team control and will make a meagre $6.49 million through arbitration this season. More importantly, this trade inches the Blue Jays that much closer to becoming a legitimate World Series contender. At last check on FanGraphs, they had the second-highest World Series odds at 10.9%, and that was before the Blue Jays traded for Chapman.
The only knock on this trade is it adds yet another right-handed bat to this lineup littered with righties. As of this moment, Cavan Biggio might be the only left-handed regular if the club shifts him back to his native position at second base. But if it wasn’t Freddie Freeman or Jose Ramirez, Chapman was the next best bet to make this Blue Jays team a serious playoff threat.
Since the lockout ended last week, the action has been fast and furious across MLB, and the Blue Jays have been extremely active in both free agency and trade. They signed Yusei Kikuchi to a three-year $36 million deal to fill out the back end of the starting rotation; they signed reliever Andrew Vasquez to a one year contract, and now have Chapman stationed at the hot corner for at least the next two seasons.
The Blue Jays clearly mean business when it comes to beefing up their roster for the 2022 season. Despite those 91 wins, this organization has sent a message; they’re stopping at nothing to keep them from returning to the playoffs and winning another World Series.
Last year, the Blue Jays spent the most money in baseball on free agents, and this year they rank fourth among MLB’s top spenders. And there’s no sign they’re done signing or trading just yet.