Matt Chapman trade grades: Blue Jays make splash, but blockbuster move comes with some risk

The Toronto Blue Jays acquired third baseman Matt Chapman from the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday in change for a bunch of 4 prospects: right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, infielder Kevin Smith, and lefties Zach Logue and Kirby Sneed. 

The Blue Jays had been linked just lately to free-agent hitters like Freddie Freeman and Kyle Schwarber. Freeman hasn’t but signed, however Schwarber reportedly reached an settlement on Wednesday morning with the Philadelphia Phillies. Chapman, then, might find yourself being Toronto’s massive offseason addition to its lineup. He has the potential to be an impactful one, although he comes with vital danger.

From Oakland’s perspective, Chapman is the second Matt the Athletics have traded this week, becoming a member of new Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson. Think about right-handed starter Chris Bassitt, who was dealt to the New York Mets final weekend, and the Athletics’ rebuild is properly underway. This probably will not be the ultimate time this month the Athletics are featured in one in every of our “Commerce Grade” items.

Because the title implies, these items are the place we rush to judgment by assessing freshly made offers. Certain, our evaluation may look silly in a number of years’ time, however we’re right here to tell and entertain. With that out of the way in which, let’s rehash the specifics of this commerce:

Blue Jays obtain

Athletics obtain

  • RHP Gunnar Hoglund
  • INF Kevin Smith
  • LHP Zach Logue
  • LHP Kirby Sneed

Now, onto the grading.

Blue Jays grade: B

There is not any denying that Chapman is an exceptional expertise. He is the most effective defensive third basemen within the league, and after greater than 2,000 journeys to the plate he boasts a profession 120 OPS+. He is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner already, and he is twice acquired votes for the Most Invaluable Participant Award. He’ll flip 29 in April, however he has two extra years of group management remaining, that means the Blue Jays will probably have him underneath employment all through his statistical prime.

Nonetheless, it should be written that there is extra danger to Chapman’s recreation than you may suppose.

Over the previous two seasons, Chapman’s strikeout price has ballooned to an uncomfortable diploma. Whereas he entered the pandemic period with a profession 23.9 % strikeout price, he is fanned in additional than 33 % of his plate appearances the previous two seasons. Chapman has all the time been susceptible to popping the ball up, working a profession infield fly price of 17 %, or 5 share factors greater than common. 

That mixture, strikeouts and pop-ups, now eats up such an incredible share of Chapman’s plate appearances that he’ll be arduous pressed to submit an honest common. This is not 2002; everybody is aware of batting common is just not the end-all, be-all. It’s, however, the muse on which on-base and slugging percentages are constructed upon. You are unlikely to achieve base 40 % of the time or submit a .500 slugging share should you’re hitting round .215, the way in which Chapman has the final two years.

It does not do a lot to calm anybody’s nerves that Chapman: A) underwent hip surgical procedure in 2020 that ended his season early; and B) noticed his ball-tracking metrics crater final 12 months. His common exit velocity dropped almost 4 miles per hour (although it was nonetheless above the league-average mark), and his share of batted balls that had been measured at 95 mph or higher dipped from 53 % to 42 %. His common flyball distance was additionally the worst of his profession, at 319 toes. (His profession common, even with final season taken into consideration, is 326 toes.)

There is not any method of realizing how a lot of Chapman’s latest points are as a consequence of his hip, and there isn’t any method of realizing if he’ll have the ability to return to his previous type. That is the purpose, proper? For nearly as good as he was previous to 2020 — and he seemed like the most effective gamers within the recreation — there’s numerous uncertainty about the place he goes from right here. In 10 years’ time, will these final two seasons stand out as sadly timed outliers, or will they signify the tell-tale starting of a untimely decline? It is to be seen.

Thoughts you, the Blue Jays ought to nonetheless really feel snug with this commerce. Their roster is sweet sufficient that they do not want prime Chapman to be able to compete for an American League East crown. Furthermore, his protection at a premium place offers him a better ground than the common participant, and his energy ought to play up in a extra pleasant offensive atmosphere. (To wit, Statcast’s calculations counsel he would’ve homered an extra 5 occasions final 12 months had he performed his video games at Rogers Middle.) There’s actual upside right here, in different phrases; there’s simply extra draw back than you may suppose.

CBS Sports activities’ Fantasy Baseball Immediately podcast broke down the Chapman commerce and extra on an emergency episode Wednesday. Pay attention under:

Athletics grade: B

This package deal may really feel gentle given Chapman’s title worth and observe report as an impact-level participant, however the aforementioned concern together with his danger profile left the business uncertain the A’s would get an enormous return. What they did get, normally phrases, is a promising younger starter and three gamers who’re big-league prepared — one in every of whom ought to step into Chapman’s spot, and one other who matches their ballpark properly. It isn’t the sexiest return, but it surely’s all proper contemplating the bigger context.

Hoglund, 22, is crucial a part of the package deal for the Athletics. He was Toronto’s first-round choose final summer season, No. 19 general by the use of Ole Miss, and he would’ve gone greater had he not required Tommy John surgical procedure throughout the spring. When he was wholesome, he established himself as a elegant right-hander with good command and a spin-heavy arsenal, together with a fastball that may contact into the mid-90s and a cutter-like slider. Supplied Hoglund makes a full restoration, he has the potential to turn into no less than a middle-of-the-rotation starter. There is a truthful probability for much more based mostly on his precision and his innate pitch attributes. 

Smith, 25, made his big-league debut final season and noticed motion at three positions over the course of 18 video games. (To be truthful, 14 of these got here at third base.) He did not carry out properly on the plate, hitting for a .382 OPS and hanging out 11 occasions in 32 at-bats. Smith has altered his swing lately, beginning and holding his fingers round his helmet till it is time to launch. That change seemingly helped him get better from a tough 2019, as he batted .285/.370/.561 with 21 house runs in 94 Triple-A video games. He stays susceptible to hanging out, to the extent that he is unlikely to ever run a excessive common. Smith does have above-average pop, nevertheless, and his capability to play both place on the left facet of the infield grants him a wider berth offensively. Oakland has Nick Allen, one of many high defensive shortstops within the minors, nearing his personal debut; Smith, then, may need to plan on making the recent nook his personal.

Logue, 25, popped up on the prospect radar final season after he improved his velocity and amassed a 3.67 ERA and a 5.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 125 innings break up throughout Double- and Triple-A. He nonetheless does not throw arduous, however there is a distinction between sitting within the low-90s and dealing within the high-80s. Logue’s finest pitch is his changeup and he creates deception with a decrease arm slot. In a vacuum, he initiatives as a back-end starter. The A’s, thanks partly to enjoying in a cavernous ballpark, have acquired better-than-expected mileage from different finesse flyball lefties previously, together with Cole Irvin final season. Logue should get his shot at outperforming his scouting report quickly, even perhaps out of the gate as a member of the A’s remade rotation. 

Snead, 27, reached the majors final season and posted a 2.35 ERA and a 3.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven appearances. He is a pure reliever, a crossfiring slider-sinker lefty with a low launch level. That slider options above-average sweep and he is proven a willingness to throw it in opposition to batters of both hand. Alas, Snead has struggled with right-handers for many of his skilled profession, suggesting he may high out as a specialist. At minimal, he is a readymade low-cost aid choice for an Athletics group that continues to stripmine its roster of veteran items.


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