News and Notes: Matt Chapman is taking a wait-and-see approach to free agency, Orioles owner says team has “overachieved,” and more!

Photo credit:Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 year ago
Matt Chapman is in line for a huge payday this winter.
He’s entering the second season of the two-year, $25 million contract that he inked with the Blue Jays last March after he was acquired in a trade with the Oakland A’s and he’ll be eligible to hit the open market as a free agent for the first time in his career once it’s finished.
There isn’t much doubt that Chapman will get paid. The question is who’s going to be paying him.
Might it be the Blue Jays? Chapman spoke with Gregor Chisholm of The Toronto Star over the weekend and said that he would be interested in sticking around with the team but his plan has always been to play out his two-year contract and see what happens…
“I know the Blue Jays enjoy having me here and want to continue having me here,” Chapman said. “I know I want to continue to be here and be a part of this team. I’m sure conversations will be had along the way but, when I signed that two-year deal, I was anticipating they would have to pay Bo and Vladdy and all these young guys.
“So, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was excited to get out of the arbitration system, not have to worry about that and I felt fortunate to have some security. I kind of always anticipated playing out the two years and seeing what would happen. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to what could be a possibility but that’s not all entirely up to me.”
Chapman was everything the Blue Jays hoped he would be and more in 2022. He slashed a .229/.324/.433 line over the course of 621 plate appearances and played rock-solid defence at the hot corner. He also quickly emerged as a leader in the team’s clubhouse and has been talked about as a well-liked and respected teammate.
But as Chapman himself mentioned, the Blue Jays need to consider what long-term contracts for Vladimir Guerrero, Bo Bichette, Alek Manoah, and others will look like, and Chapman might wind up pricing himself out of Toronto.
Another season like Chapman’s 2021 and he’ll go into free agency easily commanding more than the four-year, $92 million that Josh Donaldson earned after his rebound season with the Atlanta Braves in 2019. A huge season offensively from Chapman could net him something approaching the seven-year, $245 million deal that Anthony Redon signed after winning the World Series with the Washington Nationals.
Chapman isn’t the only big-name third baseman possibly hitting the open market this winter. Manny Machado is planning to use the opt-out in his contract with the San Diego Padres after the 2023 season and is apparently seeking a deal worth $400 million…
Machado inked a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres after the 2018 season, which saw him get traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’ll have five years and $160 million left on his contract after the 2023 season and will easily be able to command significantly more than that as a free agent this winter.
How about a reunion with the Orioles? They’re an up-and-coming team who could use a George Springer-esque veteran addition to kick open their contention window. Don’t count on it!
Orioles CEO John Angelos, the son of owner Peter Angelos, pretty bluntly told media in Baltimore on Sunday that the team isn’t ready for a major financial investment. The young Orioles put together what appeared to be a breakout season in 2022, going 83-79 after five consecutive seasons with a losing record, but Angelos noted that the team had overperformed and overachieved…
Baltimore has followed up their promising season with a pretty quiet off-season. They traded for backup catcher James McCann and starting pitcher Cole Irvin and they also added Adam Frazier and Kyle Gibson in free agency. It’s not nothing, per se, but it doesn’t really move the needle for a young team on the rise.
The Blue Jays followed up three losing seasons with a 32-28 record in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The front office then went out and signed George Springer and Marcus Semien and traded for Steven Matz. Could you imagine if Mark Shapiro had come out and said “the team overachieved” and then proceeded to have a quiet winter?

Quick notes…

  • Rob Longley of The Toronto Sun gave an update about Sportsnet’s broadcast booth for the upcoming season. Buck Martinez plans to do colour commentary for 100 games and Joe Siddall will cover the remaining 62 games. Dan Shulman is going to be the primary play-by-play voice but we don’t know who will fill in for the days that he’s off.
  • Best Shape Of His Life alert!! Brandon Belt arrived in Dunedin on Monday and said “I’ve been telling everybody this is probably the best I’ve felt in a couple of years… I’m excited. I’m excited that my body feels this good going in spring training.” Belt struggled through a nagging knee injury in 2022 and underwent season-ending surgery in September.


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