1709372365 Giants sign Matt Chapman

Giants sign Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman goes back to the Bay Area. The four-time Gold Glove winner has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $54 million guarantee with the Giants. The Boras Corporation customer may opt out after any of the next two seasons.

He will earn $20 million this season, followed by consecutive player options of $18 million and $16 million. The contract has an average annual value of $18 million for competition tax purposes. Once the deal is finalized, San Francisco will have to make a 40-man roster move.

Chapman, 31, will meet again next month with Giants baseball president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bob Melvin. He knows both from his early days with the A's. Chapman was a first-round pick by Oakland in 2014 and debuted three years later. He was one of the best all-around players in the sport.

The Cal State Fullerton product posted a .255/.336/.503 batting line in his first three and a half seasons. He combined this with the best third base defense in the American League. Chapman finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting in 2018 and 2019, earning Gold Glove honors both years.

Giants sign Matt ChapmanGiants sign Matt Chapman

Chapman's 2020 season was cut short by a torn labrum in his right hip. In September of that year he underwent surgery that put him out of action for a year. Although it was not clear at the time, this injury marked a turning point in his career. His offensive performance has not been the same since his return.

The right-handed hitter stumbled to a career-worst batting line of .210/.314/.403 in 2021. The A's traded him to the Blue Jays the following offseason. Chapman's offensive production increased slightly in Toronto, but he only found his form for 2018-19 after a hot April last year.

After hitting .229/.324/.433 in 2022, Chapman began his platform season with the goal of re-establishing himself as a center fielder. He started the year as the hottest batsman in the world. Chapman hit a .384/.465/.687 clip through the end of April. While he had lowered his strikeout rate to 22.8% in the first month of the season, his spirits increased as summer approached. A dismal May ushered in a disappointing end to his Jays tenure.

In his last 467 plate appearances, Chapman hit .205/.298/.361 with a strikeout rate of nearly 30%. In the second half, he often scored in the bottom third of the lineup. The Jays briefly placed him on the injured list in late August because of a sprained middle finger on his right hand. It's possible that this has had a negative impact on his offense, but the biggest concern is that he hasn't been able to maintain the progress in contact rate that he seemed to have made early on.

This presented a difficult decision for teams when he first hit the open market. Even though he's no longer an MVP player, Chapman is still an above-average starter. Over the last three seasons, he has drawn walks in more than 10% of his plate appearances. He hit 27 home runs in both 2021 and 2022. A year ago, the number dropped to 17 long balls, but that is not due to a decline in his quality of contact.

Chapman actually hit the ball harder than ever last season, averaging a launch velocity of 93.5 mph. He made hard contact (defined as 95+ MPH) on 56.4% of batted balls. That was the highest rate of any qualified hitter in the majors, just ahead of hitters like the former teammate Matt Olson, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., Rafael Devers And Shohei Ohtani.

He remains an asset on the other side of the ball. Chapman's defensive accomplishments aren't quite as impressive as they were early in his career, but he's still a plus at third base. Both Statcast and Defensive Runs Saved have rated him as an above-average defender in every season of his career. That includes an estimated three runs better than par by Statcast and a stellar +12 DRS grade over more than 1,200 innings last season.

Infield defense has been a problem for the Giants, particularly on the left side. San Francisco listed the longtime shortstop Brandon Crawford Enter free agency. They are ready to hand this position to the 22-year-old Marco Luciano. Incumbent third baseman JD Davis received mixed reviews regarding defensive metrics last season. There is no doubt that Chapman will be an upgrade on this side. Although there has been some speculation, the Giants may consider promoting Chapman to shortstop on defense, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle Reports that he will remain at the hot corner at Oracle Park.

San Francisco has been targeting Chapman throughout the offseason and was committed to him back in mid-November. They were content to wait out the market since he was one of the few top free agents who stuck around well into spring training.

A guaranteed $54 million is certainly not what his camp had in mind at the start of the offseason. Chapman reportedly rejected a 10-year, $150 million extension offer from the A's in 2019. He also reportedly turned down an offer from Toronto that would have topped $100 million at some point before he hit free agency. The price he set at the beginning of winter was not reached. Like another Boras Corporation customer Cody BellingerChapman opted for a short-term contract, which instead gives him the chance to come back on the market next offseason.

He was one of seven players who received and declined a qualifying offer in November. The QO would have been worth $20.325 million, a hair more than what he can now earn next season. This contract structure is certainly better than accepting the qualifying offer – the player options provide additional security in the event he struggles or sustains an injury – but the end result could be similar. The most likely outcome is that he gets a $20 million salary in 2024 and tests the market again next winter.

It remains to be seen whether it would treat him more kindly next time. He would enter his age-32 season with a profile that relies heavily on defense. Chapman isn't eligible for another qualifying offer — the CBA says players can't receive one more than once in their careers — but he's unlikely to be the clear top free agent at the position, as he was this winter. Alex Bregman Headline next year's third base class, which will also include Davis.

The Giants are giving up their second-highest pick in the upcoming draft (No. 51 overall) and $500,000 in international signing bonus slots to add a player who declined the QO. The Jays were one of eight teams that paid the luxury tax last season, so their compensation is minimal. After the fourth round, they receive an additional draft selection, around 136th overall.

It's a bigger punishment for the Giants than compensation for Toronto. It's something the Giants are still happy to pay to get Chapman at a price well below what they would have expected at the start of the offseason. (MLBTR projected he would receive a six-year, $150 million contract at the start of the winter.) The contract increases his players' 2024 payroll to about $183 million, as calculated by RosterResource. They amount to around $231 million in luxury tax liabilities, $6 million below next year's threshold.

If they want to avoid the CBT, that wouldn't leave much room for in-season acquisitions. It's possible they're content to break the threshold for the first time since 2017. San Francisco is connected to it Blake Snell (and to a much lesser extent) Jordan Montgomery. They clearly still need rotation help, especially after the expected No. 5 starter Tristan Beck had surgery on Friday for an aneurysm.

Forgoing a draft choice to sign Chapman to a contract that allows him to opt out after one season is the clearest win-now move of San Francisco's offseason. They also brought with them Young Hoo Lee take the midfield, Jorge Soler Sent to designated hitter and signed Jordan Hicks to a four-year contract to transition to the rotation. Redesign the lineup to this extent without creating more security behind it Logan WebbHiccup and newbie Kyle Harrison seems unlikely.

Davis is expected to make $6.9 million in his final arbitration season and just lost his spot in the starting lineup. Soler and Wilmer Flores are ahead of him as right-handers, each of which will play a role at DH at first base. Moving Davis to a team that needs help at third base before Opening Day could give the Giants room to spend and seems to be the best outcome for him personally. It's very likely there will be more at Oracle Park over the next three weeks.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported on the agreement, the exit options and the salary breakdown. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.