There have been rumored discussions between the Yankees and Athletics this offseason.

The name from the Athletics that gets brought up the most is first baseman Matt Olson, and for good reason. He is a great player and would be a great fit for the Yankees. New York could use an upgrade at either of the corner infield positions though, and the Athletics happen to have one of the best third basemen in the league in Matt Chapman.

Olson is the better player, but Chapman is someone Yankees fans should be happy to have if the team acquired him. There have been rumors of the Yankees discussing moving Chapman to shortstop, but it would not make much sense to do that as a ton of his value is from his defense at third.

Chapman is also a right-handed hitter who has a high strikeout rate, so that has led to some pushback from fans. These are valid reasons as to wanting Olson more, but Chapman should not be scoffed at as an alternative if the Athletics ask for a big return for Olson.

Getting the obvious out of the way first, Chapman is a great defender. He is a two-time platinum glove winner, accumulated 10 defensive runs saved in 2021 and has 78 over his whole career. In the outs above average category he is even better, with 17 outs above average with was in the 99th percentile for the league. Gio Urshela has been a fine player and an outstanding value find by the Yankees, but Chapman is a big upgrade on the defensive side.

One of the big talking points surrounding the Yankees this offseason is improving athleticism, and Chapman would do that. His sprint speed has been consistently around the 75th percentile since he entered the league.

Chapman’s offensive profile might not be appealing to some for similar reasons people do not like Joey Gallo. He is a high strikeout guy. This does not mean he is not a productive offensive player though. Chapman has a low chase rate, he was in the 82nd percentile (higher number is good) for chase rate in 2021. Chapman walks and barrels the ball at a high clip, but he does whiff a lot.

Like with Gallo, Chapman’s low chase rate and high walk rate shows good plate discipline. Having a high whiff rate and a high barrel rate at the same time shows that when Chapman connects, it is a well-hit ball. If it is not a well-hit ball it is usually either one that was in the zone that was swung at and missed, or a ball he laid off outside the zone.

Chapman should be a safe bet to put up around a 110 wRC+ in 2022. Steamer projects him at a 107 wRC+. This would be better than Urshela’s 96 wRC+ in 2021. So Chapman is an upgrade at third base on both sides of the ball.

The WAR numbers back this up as well. The most Fangraphs WAR Urshela has accumulated in a season is 3.1 in 2019. Chapman has put up over 6 WAR seasons twice in 2018 and 2019. Even if Chapman does not reach those heights again, his 2021 WAR of 3.4 is still an upgrade from Urshela’s 1.0 WAR from the same year.

Photo: Doug Duran


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