Could Matt Chapman Be The Most Impactful Free Agent In 2024?

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As we approach the 2023 Winter Meetings, which usually marks the unofficial ramp-up of MLB free agency, there are still plenty of deals to be decided.

While the talks about Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Blake Snell have taken most of the headlines, there may be more impactful names getting little to no coverage that could take contending teams to the next level in 2024.

So, with Ohtani more than likely being limited to DH-only next season, Yamamoto coming to America from the NPL at just 25 years old, and Snell’s career inconsistency possibly pointing to a down year, could Matt Chapman be the biggest signing made in the next few weeks?

Outside of half of the best player in MLB and a former MVP who seems to have finally found his swing again, the position players available via free agency this year have not made a lot of noise.

And rightfully so, as the list to follow Ohtani and Cody Bellinger are names like J.D. Martinez, Jorge Soler, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. All of which are quality bats that will impact the teams to sign them, but we are clearly removed from the previous two off-seasons where every day felt like a $300 million deal was being signed.

But a player that is not getting enough recognition for their upside is Matt Chapman, who enters the market heading into his age-31 season at a much lower level than when he debuted in 2017.

Back in his Oakland days, Chapman seemed to be on a path to stardom, receiving MVP votes in his first full season with the A’s, back-to-back gold gloves, and a 127 OPS+ in his first 3 years.

He was compared to the best of the hot corner at a young age, but it’s safe to assume that the expectations offensively for a third baseman in today’s game hindered his growth as a hitter, as from 2019 on, Chapman has failed to take that leap where the rest of the third baseball in the AL got to.

And despite an uptick in the quality of baseball around him and in the money in his pocket, his time in Toronto has been solid, but not much more than that.

But, could Chapman still have the potential to be unlocked? The advanced numbers seem to think so.

According to Baseball Savant, Chapman was in the 100th percentile in hard hit percentage, 98th in average exit velocity and barrel percentage, and 94th in chase percentage. Even though he took a step back in most power categories, he had a career-best .330 on-base percentage while hitting .240 in 140 games.

While power is expected from your third baseman, a move to a hitter-friendly park with these advanced metrics could allow Chapman to be a late bloomer offensively, something we’ve seen from the likes of Justin Turner.

And with his value where it is right now, even a prove-it deal could be big for a competitor needing another high-upside bat in the lineup.

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