Is April too soon to be talking about next winter? Totally, but let's all take a breather from the SF Giants 5-9 start to the season. Jon Heyman of the NY Post lists San Francisco as one of the top landing spots for star third baseman Matt Chapman.
Heyman: SF Giants among "most logical landing spots" for star third baseman next winter
The other potential landing spots include the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Toronto Blue Jays. It is too early to even know who might be involved, so Heyman is likely just connecting the dots. I should add that this is the same Jon Heyman who broke the news that Arson Judge would be signing with the Giants, but that is neither here nor there.
Chapman was selected by the Oakland A's in the first round of the 2014 draft out of Cal State Fullerton. He debuted for the A's in 2017 and spent his first five seasons with the club before being shipped to the Blue Jays before the 2022 season in a five-player trade.
As soon as next offseason begins, the attention will be focused on star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani, who is expected to command a historic contract in free agency. The Giants will be in the mix for Ohtani as well. However, so will the rest of baseball.
Chapman does make sense on a lot of fronts for San Francisco. Geography is one factor. The 29-yera-old grew up in Orange County, which is about six hours away from Oracle Park. He spent the better part of 10 seasons as a pro in the A's organization as well. The Giants have shown a preference for targeting local players. I might be stretching the local term a bit in this regard as Orange County is not extremely close, but it is in the same state.
Another front is need. The Giants could be entering an unusual period next winter. Brandon Crawford's two-year, $32 million is set to expire at the end of the season. Neither Crawford nor the Giants have tipped their hand as to what the plan is after this season.
If the Giants do move on from Crawford, there will be a massive void at shortstop. And, there are not many players who can fill that void. I should add that Chapman is definitely not a shortstop. That said, he is excellent defensively at third base and has three Gold Gloves to prove it. Adding him would certainly stabilize the left side of the infield in the same way Crawford has for the past 13 seasons.
Chapman is off to a fantastic start to the season. He is slashing .453/.517/.774 (252 OPS+) with three home runs, 15 RBI, and 11 runs in 60 plate appearances in 2023. The right-handed bat posted a combined .737 OPS in the two seasons leading up to this one, but the power numbers have still been there are as he blasted 27 homers in each of those seasons.
If his torrid 2023 season continues, he should receive a large payday through free agency. Perhaps, Marcus Semien's seven-year, $175 million is not a bad template, but he could command more than that given how free-agent spending has evolved over the past two seasons. Chapman will have plenty of interested suitors with the Giants expected to be in th mix.