'It's exceptionally exciting': Chapman joins Blue Jays

Toronto swaps four prospects to A's for premier third baseman

March 16th, 2022

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays acquired star third baseman from the A’s for a package of prospects on Wednesday.

Toronto sent a package of four prospects, headlined by right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, its first-round pick (19th overall) from the 2021 Draft out of Mississippi. Hoglund was the club’s top-ranked pitching prospect and nearing a return to throwing off a mound after Tommy John surgery 10 months ago. Kevin Smith, one of the club’s top infield prospects who made his MLB debut in ’21, will also head to Oakland, along with left-handers Zach Logue and Kirby Snead.

BLUE JAYS GET: 3B Matt Chapman
A'S GET: RHP Gunnar Hoglund, SS Kevin Smith, LHP Zach Logue and LHP Kirby Snead

This is the major move the Blue Jays have been targeting since the lockout lifted with an infield upgrade at the top of their list. The biggest cheers may be coming from Toronto's pitching staff, as the three-time Gold Glove Award winner is one of baseball’s most gifted defenders at the hot corner. In an AL East stacked with right-handed power bats, Chapman will be a busy man.

“It’s exceptionally exciting,” said general manager Ross Atkins. “One of the highlights of my day was seeing some of the looks on the faces in our clubhouse, with how excited our team is to be adding someone of that caliber with his reputation. This is obviously a very good fit for us.”

Atkins spoke earlier Wednesday with Chapman, who could join the Blue Jays in camp Thursday. Chapman had been with the A’s organization since 2014, when Oakland made him a first-round Draft pick, and over five seasons, he had become one of the faces of the franchise. The trade doesn’t come as a surprise, though, after star first baseman Matt Olson was dealt to Atlanta on Monday for another package of prospects.

Chapman will have a new home to settle into, but he’s going from a team entering a full rebuild to a team that is projected to be among the American League’s best.

“I’m excited,” Chapman said. “They’ve already got a great thing going, and I just want to come in and do my part and be a part of a great team that’s already achieved so much. And now coming back after what they did last year ready to rock, and they keep adding pieces. … They’ve got a lot of good pieces, good pitching. I get to go play defense and show people what I can do.”

Coming to the Blue Jays with two years of team control remaining, Chapman is projected by Cot’s Contracts to earn $9.85 million in his second year of arbitration. Toronto could explore extending Chapman, of course, but these two years overlap well with the core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Teoscar Hernández to give the Blue Jays one of the most talented lineups in the AL to go alongside a deep rotation.

“He’s so well-rounded and such a good player with such a good track record,” Atkins said. “He’s extremely durable. He’s played constantly and is always making an impact. Last year, we saw him a good bit and I didn’t want to see him hitting against us. I still feel like he’s a very viable offensive threat, a big-time threat on both sides of the ball, and that’s hard to find.”

In 2021, Chapman hit just .210 with a .717 OPS and 27 home runs over 151 games. Chapman spent the previous offseason recovering from surgery to repair a torn right hip labrum, so he should benefit from having a full offseason prior to joining the Blue Jays. Toronto’s package going to Oakland includes depth and its top pitching prospect, but the club avoided moving its top three position prospects in catcher Gabriel Moreno, shortstop Orelvis Martinez and third baseman Jordan Groshans.

None of the four prospects that the A’s are acquiring will be featured in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects, which is set to be unveiled on Friday. Hoglund and Smith were both among the Blue Jays’ Top 10 prospects, with Hoglund in the top five. Logue has some helium after fanning 10.4 batters per nine innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year, and he will be making a jump in the 2022 rankings.