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Why signing Matt Chapman does, does not make sense for Giants

Why signing Matt Chapman does, does not make sense for Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Giants will search high and low for roster upgrades this offseason — and that includes the third base position.

San Francisco has in-house options at the hot corner but has been connected to free-agent third baseman Matt Chapman early this offseason, with MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reporting last week that the Giants already have met with the third baseman this winter.

Chapman is one of the best players on the market in a top-heavy free-agent class and certainly could help the Giants, but his fit is not as obvious as some might think.

Why it makes sense

It didn’t take long for Chapman to be connected to the Giants after the team introduced new manager Bob Melvin earlier this offseason. Chapman began his MLB career with the crosstown-rival Oakland Athletics and played five seasons under Melvin before he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2022 season.

Melvin had high praise for his former third baseman in an interview with KNBR last week.

“One of my favorite players of all time,” Melvin told KNBR’s “Murph and Mac,” then joked, “I personally hit him ground balls every day, so I have a couple of Platinum Gloves in my fungo as well as a Gold Glove, too, with him.

“Obviously anybody would love to have a Matt Chapman. We do have quite a few infielders, so we’d have to rearrange some things to bring Matt in. But, you know, it’s a name that’s come up and certainly one I have history with, one that [Giants third base coach] Matt Williams has history with. It’s just a matter of whether or not it’s a match, because he’s going to have a bunch of teams that want his services.”

Chapman was an All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner with the A’s and even finished seventh and sixth in AL MVP voting in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The 30-year-old’s glove is elite and he would provide the Giants with an upgrade defensively over J.D. Davis and/or Casey Schmitt. Chapman also adds thump offensively and has averaged 24 home runs and 66 RBI in his six full seasons — excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

Chapman defensively in 2023: 4 Outs Above Average, 12 Defensive Runs Saved (1,213.2 innings)
Davis defensively in 2023: 5 Outs Above Average, -11 Defensive Runs Saved (915.2 innings)

Depending on how the rest of the offseason plays out, the Giants would be able to pencil Chapman in at third and in the middle of their lineup for the foreseeable future.

Why it doesn’t

While Chapman is one of the better all-around third basemen in the league, he certainly is not without his flaws.

Chapman is a career .240 hitter and has averaged 150-plus strikeouts in his six full seasons. For a Giants team that struggled with strikeouts last season, Chapman won’t help solve that issue.

While he might be a clear upgrade defensively over the Giants’ current options, Chapman’s 2023 season wasn’t too far off from Davis’ offensively.

Chapman in 2023: .240/.330/.424, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 62 BB, 165 Ks, 108 OPS+ (509 at-bats)
Davis in 2023: .248/.325/.413, 18 HR, 69 RBI, 52 BB, 152 Ks, 103 OPS+ (480 at-bats)

The Giants also have to decide if Chapman, who some project to land an estimated six-year, $100-150 million contract in free agency, is worth $16-25 million annually compared to the $5-6 million the Giants would pay Davis in 2024.

It remains to be seen how the Giants view Chapman as a potential fit and if they would be willing to make such a big move with viable options already in-house.

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