As the White Sox search for a second baseman continues it’s time to start thinking out of the box. Most of the good free-agent second basemen have already been scooped up and the trade market looks bleak.
One team that has been parting ways with all their assets is the Oakland Athletics. Yan Gomes, Mark Canha, Trevor Rosenthal, Khris Davis, Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, Jed Lowrie, Mitch Moreland, Sergio Romo, Jake Deikman, Mike Fiers, and Andrew Chafin have all elected to hit the open market. They also let manager Bob Melvin walk out the door. If you read the tea leaves a rebuild seems imminent.
The A’s have said they are open to listening to offers on anyone. Nobody is off the table. One player they still have at their disposal is Matt Chapman. Chapman turns 29 in April and is one of the game’s primer players. He has been manning the hot corner for the A’s for five seasons and has turned himself into arguably the best third baseman in the American League. Chapman is a three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time Platinum Glove winner, and a 2019 All-Star. He finished sixth in the MVP voting that season.
Chapman can be controlled for two more seasons via arbitration so it takes a hefty haul to pry him from Oakland. However, Oakland is trying to shed salary and the White Sox has the assets to get a deal done. If the White Sox acquire Chapman they would be getting an elite player that would immediately provide them a defensive upgrade ( which is saying something because Yoan Moncada had a stellar season defensively) and offensive pop.
By acquiring Chapman the White Sox could plug the hole at second base by shifting Yoan Moncada back. Moncada played the position when he entered the league before moving over to third in 2019.
Rick Hahn hasn’t ruled the idea out either. He was asked about it during the GM meetings in Southern California last month and said, “never say never. But look, he’s a pretty darn good third baseman. He’s comfortable there. He’s an awfully good player. I don’t know if you can upset the apple cart of something that’s working. Never say never.”
While Rick Hahn didn’t take anything off the table moving Moncada would certainly have its drawbacks. Moncada put together his best offensive season upon making the switch and even when he had a down year in 2020 he still put together a Gold Glove-caliber season defensively. However, despite Moncada’s defensive prowess, Chapman is a superior defender, and when you have a chance to add a player like him you do it even if it means ruffling some feathers.
Moncada might be more comfortable at third base but he is a professional baseball player and if he is asked to move for the betterment of the team he will have to figure it out. Having Chapman in the lineup would also give him some added lineup protection which should help him offensively.
The biggest question in this equation is what would it take to pry Chapman from the Athletics. Chapman is coming off a “down year” that saw him hit .210/.314/.403. He did hit 27 home runs and his walk rate shot up to 12.9%. But his strikeout rate was a whopping 32.5%, by far the highest of his career. Despite the downtick in production, he still posted a wRC+ of 101 which is above the league average. He also had a 3.4 fWAR which is very good but half of the 6.7 and 6.1 he posted in 2019 and 2020.
But because his production dipped he trade value took a slight hit. For the White Sox, it would probably cost them someone like Crochet, Vaughn, Sheets, or Kopech plus a few prospects. Vaughn and Kopech would be untouchable in my eyes so realistically a package would probably look something like Sheets, Crochet, and Matthew Thompson (the No 7 ranked prospect in the organization).
Will the White Sox pull the trigger? Probably not. But it is at least worth picking up the phone and inquiring about Matt Chapman.