Are the SF Giants in the market for a third baseman this winter?

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays
Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Third base may not be the most pressing need for the SF Giants this winter, but it is one area where they could improve the roster. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Giants are among the teams looking for help at third base.

Are the SF Giants in the market for a third baseman this winter?

Heyman discusses it in the context of Matt Chapman, who is the top third baseman on the market. He does not exactly say that the Giants are looking at Chapman, but that they are looking for help at the hot corner and that Chapman has met with a handful of teams.

Of course, it is hard to ignore the organizational ties to Chapman. Team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was an assistant manager for the Oakland A's when the 30-year-old was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft. Plus, new Giants manager Bob Melvin managed Chapman for his first five seasons in the majors.

The four-time Gold Glove winner has spent his last two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. Heyman adds that Toronto tried to work out an extension in the spring, but did not meet the likely price tag of $150 million over six years after another solid campaign. The Diamondbacks are also in the mix for a third baseman.

Chapman would be an interesting fit for a few reasons. First and foremost, he has been an excellent player throughout his career, impacting the game on both sides of the ball.

The right-handed bat has registered a .240/.329/.461 line (117 OPS+) with a 10.6 percent walk rate, 27.2 percent strikeout rate, and a .221 ISO. Plus, he has tallied at least 20 home runs in four of six full seasons.

Chapman is a very good hitter, but it is important to point out that while his career .790 OPS is solid, it has been a tale of two careers at the plate. From 2018 - 2020, he registered an .851 OPS but he tallied a .743 OPS in three seasons since then. He underwent should surgery in 2018, so is that still bothering him? We may not know.

The problem with his recent offensive production is that while he remains a respectable hitter, there is just not a ton of margin for error before he becomes a below-average hitter. That is quite a concern for someone who could be earning $25 million per season over the life of his next contract.

Defensively, his résumé speaks for itself and adding Chapman would improve an infield defense that was surprisingly good in 2023. He would quickly be one of the better position players on the roster. I have no doubt that his defense will age just fine at the hot corner.

With that being said, I have to wonder how much of an upgrade he would be over someone like J.D Davis. Chapman has the awards to support his excellent defense, but Davis was slightly better at third base in 2023, posting +6 Outs Above Average compared to Chapman's +4 OAA. I would still put more weight into track record than just one season.

Though, it is hard to make tha case that Chapman is a substantially better hitter than Davis. Chapman's .790 career OPS is better than Davis' .775 career OPS, but it is close. Chapman is certainly a better and faster baserunner.

Adding Chapman would be an improvement, but is the relative improvement in production worth his projected financial cost? I have my reservations. I think he could be a solid player for the first couple of seasons through his new deal, but I would not be surprised if the back-half of it was something similar to Evan Longoria's later seasons.

It is interesting that the Giants might potentially be targeting a third baseman. There are a lot of ways to improve the roster and that is one way to go with Chapman being a sensible fit. It might make sense on paper, but it would also feel out of character with how the Giants have operated in recent years.