The Phillies have shown interest in A’s third baseman Matt Chapman, but unsurprisingly, the Athletics have put a big price tag on the Gold Glover. In exchange for Chapman, Oakland is asking for one of the Phillies’ top prospects as the centerpiece of a trade package, Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, with such names as shortstop Bryson Stott or right-handers Mick Abel and Andrew Painter mentioned as the caliber of prospect the Athletics would have in mind.
Since Philadelphia’s farm system is short on premium talent, naturally the “Phillies have been reluctant to” part with any of their best youngsters in a Chapman deal, Coffey writes. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a long history of trading quality minor league talent for proven big leaguers, however, and it is possible that giving up another blue-chip prospect would simply be the necessary cost to pry Chapman away from the A’s.
While the Athletics’ payroll-cutting endeavors have already begun with tonight’s Chris Bassitt trade with the Mets (a Phillies NL East rival, no less), Billy Beane’s front office isn’t going to move Chapman for pure salary-dump purposes. At his best, Chapman has shown he is one of the game’s best all-around players, combining consistently superb third base defense with some big offensive numbers, particularly in 2018 and 2019. Over the last two years, however, Chapman’s average and OBP totals have dropped off, while his strikeouts have ballooned — Chapman’s 33.1% strikeout rate is the third-highest of any qualified hitter in baseball since the start of the 2020 season.
The Phillies and other trade suitors (the Yankees and Mariners have been linked to Chapman earlier this winter) could use this downturn to try and negotiate a lesser trade return for the third baseman, yet that tactic might not work given the amount of interest in his services. Chapman is projected for a $9.5MM salary in 2022 and also has another arbitration year remaining in 2023, with that extra control only adding to the Athletics’ high asking price.
Alec Bohm (himself a former top prospect) is penciled into Philadelphia’s third base role for Opening Day, though Bohm’s defensive struggles have already led to speculation that a position change could be in his future. Bohm’s lack of production at the plate in 2021 also didn’t help his cause, even if countless players have dealt with the so-called sophomore slump. Theoretically, the Phillies could acquire Chapman and then move Bohm across the diamond into a first base/DH split with Rhys Hoskins, though such a move would then lock up the Phils’ DH spot.
Stott is also a factor in the team’s infield plans, as the 14th overall pick of the 2019 draft has been viewed as a candidate to both make his MLB debut in 2022, and also immediately step into a regular role. This could be as a shortstop if Didi Gregorius is traded, perhaps at second base if the Phillies opted to instead deal Jean Segura, or maybe even at the hot corner, if the Phillies decide to switch Bohm’s position even without acquiring a proven veteran like Chapman. While the Phillies surely also prize Abel and Painter, it would seem on paper that Stott might be the most untouchable of the trio, given Stott’s importance to Philadelphia’s infield plans.