Giants, third baseman Matt Chapman agree to 3-year, $54 million deal: Source

By Ken Rosenthal, Andy McCullough, Andrew Baggarly and Grant Brisbee

Third baseman Matt Chapman has agreed to a three-year, $54 million deal with the San Francisco Giants, a league source told The Athletic on Friday. The agreement, first reported by the New York Post, includes opt-outs after each of the first two seasons.

Chapman, who will turn 31 in April, has been one of the best infield defenders in recent memory. Since his debut in 2017, he has won four American League Gold Glove Awards at third base. In 2018 and 2019, Chapman was the recipient of the Platinum Glove in the American League, given annually to the player considered by his peers to be the best fielder in the sport. (In both of those seasons, the National League winner was Nolan Arenado, Chapman’s former high school teammate at El Toro High in Lake Forest, Calif.)

Chapman ranked as the eighth-best free agent on The Athletic’s Top 40 Big Board and the top third baseman on the market. Before Chapman’s winter spilled into the spring, The Athletic’s Tim Britton projected the third baseman to land a contract in the neighborhood of five years, $95 million. Chapman had previously rejected a 10-year, $150 million extension while still with the Oakland Athletics

He also reportedly turned down a nine-figure extension that had been offered by the Blue Jays.

Scouts remain upbeat about Chapman’s reflexes and elite throwing arm. Josh Bell, the Miami Marlins’ first baseman, worked out with Chapman during the winter. Bell once compared Chapman’s instincts and first-step quickness to a person who grew up on a different planet: “If you’re born on a place with more gravity,” Bell said, “and you get transported to a lighter gravity, then everything is easier for you.”

Chapman’s defensive skills have anchored his value while his production at the plate has fluctuated. He wields fearsome power but often struggles to make contact. He has batted .226 since 2020, though his ability to draw walks and slug has kept him an above-average hitter, with a 109 OPS+ during those years.

The 2023 season proved emblematic of Chapman’s offensive volatility. He was a terror in the season’s first month for Toronto. Chapman hit .384 with a 1.152 OPS in April.

During the rest of the season, he hit .205 with a .659 OPS. While he has cut down on his strikeout rate in recent years, his power has also diminished. Chapman supplied 17 home runs in 2023, his lowest total in a full season during his career.

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Matt Chapman spent the first five years of his career with the Oakland A’s. (Nick Cammett / Diamond Images via Getty Images)

He has spent his entire career playing for contenders. Chapman was part of the homegrown core that provided the last gasps for the Athletics in the late 2010s. Oakland chose him in the first round of the 2014 draft out of Cal State Fullerton.

He reached the majors in 2017. By 2018, he had become a pillar of a club that won 97 games in back-to-back seasons and then won the American League West in 2020. When the A’s were torn down after taking a step back in 2021, Chapman was dealt to Toronto.

The Blue Jays reached the postseason in both of Chapman’s seasons with the club, but the team was swept out of the wild-card round each year.

Why the Giants signed Chapman

Bob Melvin didn’t want the Giants to sign Chapman merely because the third baseman was a familiar face from their time together in Oakland. He didn’t want San Francisco to sign Chapman because he is convinced the 30-year-old can challenge his career bests of 36 homers (in 2019) or 137 OPS+ (in 2018) or will produce anything like a cleanup hitter should. Melvin’s full case for signing Chapman wasn’t his two-time Platinum Glove, either.

It was the entire package — the stability, the consistency, the everyday professionalism — that Melvin valued highest as he seeks to create and maintain high standards with the franchise he grew up watching.

For signing Chapman, the Giants forfeit their second selection (51st overall) in the 2024 draft as well as $500,000 from their international bonus pool. If they were to sign Blake Snell, another qualifying offer recipient, they’d lose their third pick (88th) and another $500,000 from their international bonus pool. — Andrew Baggarly, Giants senior writer

How he fits with San Francisco

Chapman does not snap perfectly into place into the Giants roster in its current form. They already addressed their need for a right-handed hitter when they signed DH Jorge Soler. Assuming Chapman is their third baseman, then J.D. Davis becomes a redundancy who might be headed elsewhere in a trade.

It’s not out of the question that San Francisco could take a look at Chapman at shortstop, though.

However Chapman and the rest of the infield fits together on opening day, the Giants followed through on their pledge to improve their infield defense and a clear signal was sent when it comes to the question of how much influence Melvin will have on personnel moves after signing a three-year contract to manage. Melvin wanted his guy.

He got his guy — and for a guaranteed sum that was a fraction of what Chapman was predicted to get. We’ll find out if it was all worth the wait. — Baggarly

What Chapman means for Giants in 2024

There are a couple of ways to think about Chapman. The first is as a hitter with a .226/.322/.420 slash line over the last three seasons. That came with two Gold Gloves and an average of 24 home runs in those seasons, but he’s hardly a middle-of-the order force.

The second is as a valuable player, full stop. There are nits to pick, and his low-contact stylings won’t help San Francisco put more balls in play, but if he were on the Giants over the last three seasons, his 2023 season would have been the second-highest in Baseball-Reference’s WAR among position players since Farhan Zaidi took over, trailing only Brandon Crawford’s MVP-worthy season in 2021.

Since 2021, Chapman would have had three of the top five WARs among position players in San Francisco. He’s a brilliant fielder, he’s faster than you think and the power is legitimate.

The Giants can also clear salary now by trading Davis, who is still good (and young) enough that another team wouldn’t balk at picking up his full salary, most likely. This would leave San Francisco in the Blake Snell market, perhaps, although as a writer looking for content, I’m holding out hope for Zack Greinke.

One of the most valuable components of the deal is Chapman’s range will help take some of the pressure off Marco Luciano if he’s the starting shortstop. Or, if the Giants go with Nick Ahmed, they’ll have something of a super-infield, which will help more than a little with sinkerballers Logan Webb and Jordan Hicks in the rotation already, and Alex Cobb slated to join them in a couple months.

There’s also the possibility Chapman could play shortstop, even though he’s played a total of one (1) game there in his major-league career. He has the range and arm for it.

They took their sweet time, but Chapman in San Francisco has been rumored for so long because it’s always made too much sense. He’ll get to play for Melvin again and come back to the Bay Area.

It would have been dicey on a five-year deal, but on a three-year deal with player opt outs? Welcome to the Giants.  — Grant Brisbee, Giants staff writer

Required reading

(Top photo: Jerome Miron / USA TODAY)

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