The lockout has finally been lifted and transactions have begun to roll in. While the Rays front office has been relatively quiet up to this point, they are reportedly working to add a right-handed hitter to the roster.
Today, it was reported that the team is specifically interested in trading for Matt Chapman of the Oakland A’s:
In #Rays efforts to add a RH hitter to what they consider an already good team, they are shopping for now among some top-shelf options, with interest in A's 3B Matt Chapman and free agent OF Seiya Suzuki among others.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 14, 2022
Chapman has two years of control remaining and is projected to make $9.5M (per MLB Trade Rumors) in 2022.
The 28-year old Chapman has had a very strong start to his career slashing .243/.330/.478 (120 wRC+) with 111 homeruns in total. His offensive numbers took a bit of a step back in 2021 (101 wRC+), but he was still a very good player overall. His 3.4 fWAR in 2021 ranked 9th best among qualified third basemen.
The strong WAR figures for Chapman are in large part due to his excellent glove work at the hot corner. He’s already won three gold gloves, two platinum gloves, and was the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year in 2018.
Chapman posted back-to-back 6+ WAR seasons in 2018 and 2019 as well. He has been a staple of productivity and durability over the course of his career so far, and ranks in the top 20 among all position players in WAR since 2017 (his first big league season).
The great well-rounded skills he possesses are sure to net the A’s a lucrative return if they do in fact trade him. As far as what a return may look like, here is what Oakland reportedly asked for from the Phillies when talking about Chapman deals:
Per source, A’s won’t agree to trade Matt Chapman to the Phillies unless returning package includes someone at the top of the Phillies farm system (Painter, Abel, Stott, etc). Source says that thus far, Phillies have been reluctant to deal those guys.— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) March 12, 2022
The A’s are sure to ask Tampa Bay about a few of their top prospects in these discussions. For what it’s worth, the A’s also prioritized prospects over big leaguers in the return packages for both Chris Bassitt and Matt Olson.
Are the Rays willing to meet what figures to be a lofty acquisition price for the slick-fielding, slugging third basemen?