All-star third baseman Matt Chapman traded to Blue Jays from Athletics

By John Chidley-Hill

The Toronto Blue Jays have gotten the infield help they have been seeking all off-season.

Matt Chapman was acquired by Toronto in a trade with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, the Blue Jays have confirmed. Shortstop Kevin Smith, right-handed pitcher Gunnar Hoglund, left-handed starter Zach Logue and left-handed reliever Kirby Snead were sent to Oakland in exchange for the all-star third baseman.

Manager Charlie Montoyo said the Blue Jays were excited when news of the trade broke in their clubhouse at the team’s spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla.

“Our defence just got a lot better,” said Montoyo. “He’s one of the best third basemen I’ve ever seen in the big leagues and I’m really happy to have him.

“I’m also happy for the kids that got traded. When you get traded for somebody that that’s good it’s also good for you.”

The 28-year-old Chapman had a .210 batting average and 27 home runs for the Athletics last season while earning his third Gold Glove. He also had a .314 on-base percentage and a .403 slugging percentage last year.

All of Chapman’s 2021 numbers were actually below his 162-game average over five seasons in Oakland. He has averaged 31 homers, while hitting .243 with a .330 OBP and .478 slugging percentage in his career.

Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said that despite Chapman’s apparent regression at bat last season he is still a well-rounded player who is “extremely durable.”

“Last year we saw him a good bit and when I didn’t want to see him hitting against us, so I still feel like he’s a very viable offensive threat,” said Atkins. “He’s a big time threat on both sides of the ball and that’s hard to find.” Chapman’s fielding is the real prize for the Blue Jays. On top of his three Gold Gloves as the best defensive third baseman in the American League, Chapman has won Platinum Gloves as the best defensive player in the AL – regardless of position – in 2018 and 2019.

Montoyo said that adding Chapman’s glove to the left side of the field will help Toronto climb up the AL East standings.

“I mean that’s how you win in the big leagues: pitching and defence,” said Montoyo. “It’s tough to hit all the time so to win you need pitching and defence and we really just got better.”

Santiago Espinal, who will likely share second base with Cavan Biggio this season, said he was eager to learn from Chapman.

“When that trade happened, everybody was happy,” said Espinal, gesturing around the Blue Jays’ expansive clubhouse. “He’s going to be able to help us, especially us young guys.

“He’s already got that Gold Glove and he got a Platinum Glove too, so for us to have him and learn from him I think is a blessing.”

Atkins said that the learning in Toronto’s clubhouse may cut both ways.

“I think Matt will come in extremely open-minded and excited about this. opportunity,” he said. “Excited about tapping into the resources here.”

The trade came a day after Atkins said that adding a new position player was a priority. On Wednesday he said that the Blue Jays, who had been rumoured to be pursuing free agents like Canadian first baseman Freddie Freeman and shortstop Carlos Correa, may not be done yet.

“I can’t imagine trying harder in terms of aggressiveness,” said Atkins, who gestured toward the bags under his eyes. “Maybe you can tell by my eyes that you know it’s around the clock and we’re spending a lot of time and energy on ways to make our team better, if that means in incremental ways or significant ways.”

That said, Atkins isn’t going to rush into anything.

“Nothing that is imminent or about to happen,” said Atkins. “It’s really just thinking about how we can improve on the run-prevention side and on the run-scoring side.”

Atkins said he expected Chapman to report to Blue Jays spring training camp on Thursday.