The Matt Chapman rumors to the SF Giants will continue until he signs. On Sunday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today added fuel to that rumor, saying "it's hard to imagine" the four-time Gold Glove winner signing anywhere but the Giants or possibly the Chicago Cubs.
MLB insider: "Hard to imagine" veteran third baseman signing anywhere but SF Giants
In Nightengale's phrasing, it does feel like the Giants are seen as the favorites with the Cubs lurking behind. This is not the first time the Giants have been seen as one of the favorites for Chapman in recent weeks. The Cubs have frequently been connected as a landing spot as well.
For Chicago, adding Chapman would further strengthen the team's infield defense, which is already viewed as a strength. Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner took home the NL Gold Glove award at shortstop and second base, respecitively, in 2023. Similarly, Chapman earned his fourth AL Gold Glove award this past season.
They are set up the middle. Third base is more of a question mark, but they do have options with Nick Madrigal and Patrick Wisdom. Plus, 2023 first-round pick Matt Shaw has been working out at third base and could be an option in 2024 after finishing last year in Double-A. It feels like a want more than a need.
The same could be said for the Giants. They have a framework of an infield with LaMonte Wade Jr. and Wilmer Flores at first base, Thairo Estrada at second base, Marco Luciano at shortstop, and J.D. Davis at third base.
The addition of Chapman would supplant Davis at the hot corner. Davis is coming off of a nice 2023 campaign in which he tallied a .738 OPS with 18 home runs in 546 plate appearances. He has been an above-average hitter throughout his career. However, his defense at third base showed improvement last year as he was worth +5 Outs Above Average (OAA).
Chapman would be an improvement over Davis in 2024. The Giants have to weigh whether that improvement for next season is worth the five-year contract he is likely to score in free agency.
While there might not be an obvious need at third base for the Giants, it is hard to ignore his connections to the organization as well. New Giants manager Bob Melvin coached Chapman for five seasons with the Oakland A's. Matt Williams served as the third base in Oakland for Chapman's last three seasons with the A's. Both have spoken glowingly about the 30-year-old infielder this offseason, which is not something you typically hear a team say publicly about a free agent.
Plus, Farhan Zaidi was an assistant general manager with the A's when Chapman was drafted by Oakland in the first round of the 2014 draft out of Cal State Fullerton. And, the veteran bat grew up in California and is familiar with the Bay Area.
There are a lot of connections between Chapman and the Giants, which is why it is hard to envision him signing elsewhere until he does. Given that he is a Scott Boras client, his market has moved slow and may not be resolved anytime soon. Nevertheless, the Giants look like a logical suitor for the seven-year veteran.