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Matt Chapman won’t be an easy player for the Blue Jays to replace

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Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
5 months ago
There’s no better third baseman on the market than Matt Chapman.
Overall, the 30-year-old third baseman had a solid season in 2023, slashing a .240/.330/.424 line with 17 homers and a 110 wRC+ across 581 plate appearances. He posted the second-best fWAR for Blue Jays position players at 3.5 and he also won the American League Gold Glove award for third base with 12 defensive runs saved.
Many Blue Jays fans are ready to move on from Chapman because of his rough finish to the season, which makes sense in some cases. For example, his offensive numbers are heavily inflated due to an April where he hit .384/.465/.687 with five homers in just 114 plate appearances. After that, from the start of May to the end of the season, Chapman only slashed .205/.298/.361 with 12 homers in 467 plate appearances.
Defensively, Chapman had posted 12 Defensive Runs Saved and posted 4 Outs Above Average in 1213 2/3 innings played at third. While the hot corner has lesser defensive value than shortstop, centre field, and catching, it’s still incredibly valuable, especially for pitchers (like Chris Bassitt) who rely on ground balls. If the Blue Jays sign a lesser defensive third baseman, more runs will likely be scored against them.
Now, it’s no secret that there’s a lot of swing and miss in Chapman’s game, especially with high fastballs, and it can be frustrating watching him not come through in a run-scoring position. Chapman is a rather streaky player, which was on full display in 2023, as we saw him play like an MVP for a month and struggle mightily during other periods. 
But if the Blue Jays move on from Chapman, they’ll have a gaping hole at third base. Before they acquired Chapman from the Oakland A’s in March of 2021, Toronto’s third base situation was a mess, as the team rotated through Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, and random pick-ups like Joe Panik, Jake Lamb, and Breyvic Valera.
Who do they have now to replace him? The Blue Jays have Damiano Palmegiani, Addison Barger, and Orelvis Martinez all in Triple-A, but I’d argue that none of them will be ready to start the 2024 season. Externally, Jeimer Candelario is the best third baseman available in free agency, but his defence is a significant downgrade from Chapman’s, and I’m not sure he’s better with the stick, either.
As long as Chapman can be signed to a reasonable deal, maybe not the $150 million figure he’s rumoured to be seeking, the Jays should re-sign him. You know he’ll give you Gold Glove defence at the hot corner and that he’ll make the team’s pitching staff better. 
With all that being said, Chapman can’t be the only big addition for the Blue Jays this off-season. They have plenty of holes aside from third base and they need to make their lineup deeper, as spending to keep Chapman around would be about run prevention rather than run scoring. Whether this is fulfilled through a big signing, such as Shohei Ohtani or Cody Bellinger, or a trade, like Juan Soto, the Jays have a big off-season ahead of them.
Re-signing Matt Chapman might not be an exciting move, but it’s one the Blue Jays should seriously consider, because he’s more difficult than many realize to replace.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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