Trade candidate: Matt Chapman

During an up-and-down start to the season, Matt Chapman made adjustments that turned his 2021 around. Instead of striking out at an untenable clip, a few small changes at the plate made Chapman into something at least closer to his peak from just a few years ago. With the financial cuts the A’s are facing from ownership this offseason, though, Matt Chapman might have played his final game for the A’s. With two years left to go of team control, and looking at a raise to roughly $9.5 MM*, Chapman is an expensive and depreciating asset for a team that clearly isn’t planning on contention in 2022. Trading him now maximizes value to the franchise and might make the rebuild they’re embarking on last a year or two shorter if they get back the right players.

While he probably can’t be expected to be the main source of offense on a team due to his strikeout issues, he’s got pop in his bat. One of the main things that he has going for him is his defense. Winning another Gold Glove only boosts his trade value in any negotiations with prospective buyers, and teams that rely heavily on ground-ball style pitchers might be extra interested in his vacuum-esque play at third. He is considered one of the best defenders in the game, regardless of position, and his defense alone is something that many teams would covet even if it means tolerating a subpar bat.

So who are the teams most likely to trade for Matt Chapman? Let’s look…

Mariners: The Seattle Mariners are in need of a new third baseman after letting longtime cornerstone Kyle Seager reach free agency. With the signing of AL Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray, the Mariners are signaling that they’re ready to make a serious playoff push in 2022. They’re by no means done yet, though, with third base still a major question mark. They’ve been linked to third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant recently, but they also have built up a strong farm system that would enable them to make a Chapman trade work. With Oakland in need of a new outfielder with Mark Canha off to the Mets, and the Mariners having somewhat of a glut of outfielders, there may be a match involving a big-league outfielder to go with some prospects in exchange for the Gold-Glover.

Yankees: New York has been rumored to be interested in just about every major player on the free agent and trade markets, especially shortstops, but acquiring someone like Chapman would come at a far less cost than shelling out $300MM+ for the likes of Carlos Correa, who because of the sign-stealing scandal might be an odd fit. It might be a stretch to imagine third-baseman-turned-shortstop Gio Urshela succeeding on defense over the course of an entire offseason, but they made the move in the middle of a playoff race so it can’t be ruled out. It might be more likely they go hard after Matt Olson, but if Oakland sends him somewhere else, New York might consider staying at the table, just changing the subject.

Blue Jays: Toronto just watched Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien sign with other teams less than 24 hours from each other and suddenly need an infielder. Whether that’s a second baseman or third baseman depends on how they feel about 2B/3B Cavan Biggio, who had a poor offensive year while playing a position other than his main one, and Santiago Espinal, who hit .311/.376/.405 in 92 games but with only 2 home runs. With a pressing need to replace Semien and his 45 bombs as well as quality defense, a win-now Toronto club may feel more inclined to acquire an established player like Chapman rather than let Biggio and/or Espinal go through the growing pains that come with making the bigs.

Darkhorse- Phillies: While there are other needs on the roster, the Phillies could use an upgrade at third base, and President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has been around the league for a while and likes to have elite third basemen. Top prospect Alec Bohm didn’t build upon his impressive rookie year, and in fact seemed to regress. With Philadelphia in win-now, they might decide they don’t want to wait for Bohm’s development. The A’s can, though, as they enter what’s expected to be a multi-year rebuild.

*Arbitration projection courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors