TORONTO, ONT – All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays from the payroll-shredding Oakland Athletics for four players on Wednesday.
A five-year veteran and three-time Gold Glove winner, Chapman hit .201 with 27 home runs and 72 RBIs in 151 games for the Athletics last season. He was a first-time All-Star in 2019.
“He’s a big-time threat on both sides of the ball and that’s hard to find,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said of Chapman from spring training in Dunedin, Florida.
Chapman won Platinum Gloves as the best defensive player in the AL, regardless of position, in 2018 and 2019. He is expected to join the Blue Jays on Thursday.
“Our defense just got a lot better,″ Blue Jays manager Charlie 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.”
Chapman is the latest addition in a busy offseason for the Blue Jays, who went 91-71 last year but finished one game behind Boston and New York in the AL wild-card race. Toronto also signed right-hander Kevin Gausman, left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, and right-handed reliever Yimi Garcia.
“I know how talented they are,” Chapman said. “It’s a team that’s ready to compete now, and they’re ready to win and go for it. I couldn’t be happier to go join that.”
Since the end of the lockout, the A’s also dealt All-Star righty Chris Bassitt to the New York Mets and first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta. The three trades cut Oakland’s projected payroll by about $30 million.
“You see what was happening around here,’’ Chapman said of Oakland. “It’s sad to leave, but it’s happy to go somewhere where it’s going to be an incredible opportunity. A lot of emotions, but I think it’s going to be an amazing next couple of years.”
Chad Pinder is among the players first-year Athletics manager Mark Kotsay is considering to replace Chapman at third base.
“We acknowledge this happened, but we acknowledge that there’s still a job to do,” Pinder said of Chapman’s departure.
Oakland received right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, Toronto’s top pick in the 2021 amateur draft, minor league left-hander Zach Logue, left-handed reliever Kirby Snead, and infielder Kevin Smith.
Chapman is eligible for arbitration this season and next. He earned $6.54 million in 2021, including a $50,000 bonus for Gold Glove.
“We’ll miss his energy, what he brings to the field every day,’’ Kotsay said. “And in terms of the clubhouse, there’s a lot of long lasting relationships with him.”
Chapman said he is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning he will have no issue crossing the U.S-Canada border throughout the season. Currently, unvaccinated travellers entering Canada must complete a 14-day quarantine.
The Blue Jays have had success in the past with former Oakland infielders. Josh Donaldson won the 2015 AL MVP award after being acquired from the Athletics the previous offseason, while Marcus Semien starred for Toronto last year before signing with Texas.
After choosing college over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2018 amateur draft, Hoglund went 10-5 in three seasons at Mississippi before signing with Toronto last summer. He had elbow ligament replacement surgery in May 2021 and has not pitched as a professional.
Along with hauls for Bassitt from the Mets and Olson from the Braves, Oakland has added 10 players in five days.
Kotsay said Wednesday he believes center fielder Cristian Pache, a player swapped for Olson, can compete for an opening day roster spot. Oakland's primary center fielder, Ramon Laureano, has 27 games remaining on an 80-game suspension under MLB's joint drug agreement.
“In explaining to him the opportunity here, he’s excited to be here, and we’re excited to put our eyes on him and assess his abilities,’’ Kotsay said of Pache.
“Any time you have a lot of change, that change is difficult, and so how we tackle it, and how we stand up to it, makes us stronger,’’ Kotsay added. “We, in this group, know that the focus has to be on our work and getting prepared for a season.’’
Freelancer Theresa Smith contributed from Mesa, Arizona.
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