The Toronto Blue Jays have landed a 28-year-old, all-star, third baseman from the Oakland Athletics in a massive five-player, intra-league trade.
Pause, if you have heard that exact sentence before, some seven-and-a-half years ago.
Back in 2014, Toronto sent four prospects to Oakland in exchange for 28-year-old Josh Donaldson. He would go on to lead the Jays to two strong postseason appearances while earning the American League MVP Award.
On Wednesday, the Blue Jays opted to rewind the clocks and try it all again, this time on fellow 28-year-old third baseman Matt Chapman.
Heading to Oakland from the Blue Jays is a conglomeration of prospects, including three pitchers and three players nearly ready to hit the big leagues. Shortstop Kevin Smith, and hurlers Gunnar Hoglund, Zach Logue and Kirby Snead will show themselves to Athletics’ camp in the coming days.
— Scott BlueJaysAlways (@BluejaysAlways) March 16, 2022
Chapman now joins a contingent of A’s players who have recently departed the organization over the offseason, including Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Matt Olson and Josh Harrison amongst others.
Chapman, 28, is well-known as one of baseball’s best defensive players to work the hot corner in recent years. 2019 saw the six-foot, 215-pound right-hander put up a career-best 36 home runs and 91 RBIs, while earning his second-career Gold Glove award for his defensive acumen. Last year, the Victorville, CA. product took home his third Gold Glove.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 16, 2022
Chapman has just two years remaining on his contract that will expire for the 2024 season, but the next two years in Toronto will be critical for both his personal and his team’s success.
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“I’m excited,” Chapman said of joining the Blue Jays. “They’ve already got a great thing going, and I just want to come in and do my part and be a part of a great team that’s already achieved so much. And now coming back after what they did last year ready to rock, and they keep adding pieces… They’ve got a lot of good pieces, good pitching. I get to go play defense and show people what I can do.”
Shortly after losing reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to Seattle via free agency, Toronto responded with the signings of Jose Berrios and Kevin Gausman. Last week, the team continued with its pitching focus and brought in Yusei Kikuchi and Yimi Garcia. On Wednesday morning, general manager Ross Atkins announced the deal that saw the tightening of one of the league’s best infields, in acquiring Chapman.
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“It’s exceptionally exciting,” Atkins said of the Chapman signing. “One of the highlights of my day was seeing some of the looks on the faces in our clubhouse, with how excited our team is to be adding someone of that caliber with his reputation. This is obviously a very good fit for us.”
According to an unnamed New York Yankees player, the Blue Jays, “Are not messing around. This division is going to be crazy.”
Yes, Mr. Anonymous, you are correct. The American League East will be incredibly fun to watch this season.
According to Atkins, the Jays are ready to embrace a new-look infield for the 2022 season, and are likely done with their shopping spree. But, as we all know, crazier things have happened.
“He’s so well-rounded and such a good player with such a good track record,” Atkins said. “He’s extremely durable. He’s played constantly and is always making an impact. Last year, we saw him a good bit and I didn’t want to see him hitting against us. I still feel like he’s a very viable offensive threat, a big-time threat on both sides of the ball, and that’s hard to find.”
Amazingly, Atkins was able to hold on to many of his top prospects, despite having to send over Hoglund – who has just come off Tommy John surgery. Third baseman Jordan Groshans – the team’s No.1 prospect – remains Blue Jays’ property, while catcher Gabriel Moreno and shortstop Orelvis Martinez also dodged the bullet.
From the Jays’ perspective, the team now boasts a lineup featuring the following:
CF: George Springer
SS: Bo Bichette
DH: Randal Grichuk
1B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr
RF: Teoscar Hernandez
3B: Matt Chapman
LF: Lourdes Gurriel Jr
2B: Santiago Espinal / Cavan Biggio
C: Danny Jansen / Alejandro Kirk
SP: Jose Berrios
SP: Kevin Gausman
SP: Alek Manoah
SP: Hyun-Jin Ryu
SP: Yusei Kikuchi
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