Yankees are among teams interested in Gold Glove winning free agent

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Although it’s unlikely that the Yankees will land one of the top free agents remaining on the market, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that they’re among teams interested in 3B Matt Chapman. The 30-year-old hit 17 HRs and posted a 3.5 fWAR across 140 games for the Toronto Blue Jays, and is known as one of the best defensive players in the sport. His bat has been inconsistent and struggled mightily down the stretch after posting MVP-caliber numbers in April.

He’s seeking a long-term deal north of $100 million, and given the Yankees’ spending patterns after signing Marcus Stroman, it would seem that a short-term deal might be the only way the team would acquire the sure-handed third baseman.

Could the Yankees Upgrade at Third Base With Matt Chapman?

matt chapman, yankees
Apr 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26) reacts after hitting a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the fourth inning at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Despite spending $90 million on DJ LeMahieu and $50 million on Josh Donaldson in the past few offseasons, the Yankees have yet to find a stable third baseman since Gio Urshela. It’s been a weird position for the Bronx Bombers, and yet they seem content with running out their current unit consisting of the LeMahieu as mentioned above, and youngster Oswald Peraza. FanGraphs is bearish on what they’ll combine to produce, as they have the Yankees finishing with just the 14th-most WAR (2.6).

Chapman, who didn’t look like himself for most of the season, still finished with a 110 wRC+ and overall had a strong tenure north of the border. Since being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Platinum Glove winner has a 114 wRC+ and 44 home runs, providing plenty of value due to his solid bat and great athleticism. His 7.7 fWAR is eighth among third basemen over that timespan, and his defensive value makes him an attractive option for their infield, especially after signing Stroman.

Something that the Yankees could optimize with Matt Chapman’s approach is getting him to pull the ball in the air more, as he has some of the lowest pulled barrel rates in the sport despite his excellent raw power. On the surface, Chapman is a barrel machine, with a 17.1% Barrel Rate this past season, but it only translated to a .424 SLG%, which is a product of the aforementioned lack of pulled contact. It’s not as if he doesn’t make great swing decisions, as he swings in-zone roughly 70% of the time with an extremely low chase rate.

The Yankees have been at the forefront of generating pulled flyballs, and they’re one of the most forward-thinking organizations in terms of generating game power. While last year’s offense was abysmal, it was more of a reflection of poor roster construction than organizational philosophy, and the Yankees might be able to get Chapman to get more out of his excellent raw power.

Matt Chapman gives the Yankees an excellent defensive alignment in their infield, as having the AL Gold Glove winners at both shortstop and third base on the field at the same time would be marvelous to witness. It pushes DJ LeMahieu into a utility role, but the lineup would be pretty stout with a hitter like Chapman in the mix.

  1. Gleyber Torres
  2. Juan Soto
  3. Aaron Judge
  4. Anthony Rizzo
  5. Matt Chapman
  6. Alex Verdugo
  7. Giancarlo Stanton
  8. Austin Wells
  9. Anthony Volpe

We could also see Chapman at the top of the Yankees’ lineup due to his watchful eye and great speed, but it all comes down to the price tag, as a $100 million offer won’t come from the Bronx Bombers.

MLB: New York Yankees-Aaron Judge press conference
Dec 21, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Hal Steinbrenner during a press conference at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

With the team payroll already above $300 million, it would likely take a short-term deal for the Yankees to entertain signing Matt Chapman. Jeff Passan floated the idea that one of the top free agents (such as Chapman) could take a shorter-term deal, but he’s a player who has consistently been linked to the San Francisco Giants, who seem like an obvious fit who could pay him what he’s looking for.

Bob Melvin was his manager with the Oakland Athletics, whom he became an All-Star with, and he’s familiar with that area as the Giants also play in the Bay Area. It’s the likeliest option for the right-handed infielder and the Yankees will likely remain with DJ LeMahieu at third base (for now). The Yankees have liked Matt Chapman for quite some time, as they tried to acquire him prior to the 2022 season to play shortstop, but I believe he’ll end up signing elsewhere barring a shift in demands.