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ESPN lists Toronto Blue Jays’ Matt Chapman as second best free agent, projects $80-to-$150-million contract

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
As the Toronto Blue Jays fight for playoff positioning, some eyes are already peering towards the offseason.
It’s hard not to when Shohei Ohtani is the top pending free agent on the board and the LA Angels themselves implode after buying at the trade deadline.
And with that, the Jays have been drawn into the conversation, but not because of Shohei Ohtani.
It’s because of Matt Chapman, a pending free agent of his own, who ESPN has listed as their second-best free agent available in early 2023 free agency rankings.
ESPN structured their rankings by tiers. The first tier, featuring Ohtani alone, is listed as the “the only limit is your imagination” tier and honestly, it makes sense.
The second tier, led by Chapman and followed by Blake Snell, the NPB’s Yoshinobu Yamamoto and others, was categorized as the “players who will get anywhere from $80-to-$150-million” tier.
“You could rank basically anyone in this tier in almost any order as there are a lot of similar pitchers in this class who should do well in free agency, with a small chance one or two of them clears $150 million,” ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel wrote. “One or two will likely have to settle for one-year deals or something with an opt-out designed to be used early in the deal. The top players in the ‘others with a shot’ category below also could clear $80 million.”

Jun 17, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) in action during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Field.

So while they’re not explicitly saying which end of the tier Chapman himself could fall under, McDaniel notes how the third baseman will covet teams this winter.
Chapman should have a very active market because he and Cody Bellinger are the only two position players in the top 10, possibly the top 15.
As one of the best defensive players in the league who is also regularly 20% above league average at the plate and above average as a baserunner, Chapman will have broad appeal to all sorts of clubs. He’ll easily get into nine figures with a high-water mark around Marcus Semien’s seven-year, $175 million contract with the Rangers signed before the 2022 season.
What’s important to note is the Jays did offer Semien a contract after his 2021 campaign in town that saw him rack up 6.2 fWAR, the seventh-best in the league. It was a number that helped him covet the massive contract he signed with the Rangers.
Chapman, meanwhile, has tallied a 3.5 fWAR heading into Tuesday’s game, the 22nd-best rate in the league. While he’s undoubtedly remained one of the best players at the hot corner for years and continues to be a plus-runner on the basepaths, he’s had an up-and-down year with his bat in hand.
In March/April, he had a 1.152 OPS, which fell to .585 and .633 in May and June, respectively. It rebounded well in July rising to .908, but through the first week of August it’s sitting at .660.
It’ll be fascinating to see how the next six months shake out in the Six.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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