SF Giants’ New Signing Could Open Door for Cubs to Close on All-Star Slugger

Matt Chapman

Getty Matt Chapman

When the Chicago Cubs signed Japanese pitcher Shōta Imanaga on January 9, fans were optimistic that more big announcements would be coming before spring training.

The team has stayed relatively quiet since then, and as it currently stands, the Cubs will be going into 2024 without having made any game-changing moves to boost their chances of contention this season.

But it’s not over ’til it’s over, and perhaps the Cubs’ patience will end up paying off for them.

The Cubs have been linked to free agent slugger Matt Chapman all winter, and while his market has been hot with interest from multiple teams at different times, many previously interested clubs — including the San Francisco Giants who were believed to be the favorites to sign him — have now gone with other players to fill gaps in their rosters.

As a result, the four-time Gold Glove Award-winner is still available with mere weeks until Opening Day, and if the Cubs play their cards right, he could land in their lap right at the last moment.

This winter, Chapman has largely been viewed as the Cubs’ backup plan for if they don’t manage to re-sign Cody Bellinger. Chicago has been open about wanting to bring Bellinger back for 2024, and fans proved their enthusiasm for the reunion when they chanted his name at owner Tom Ricketts during Cubs Convention last month.

Still, no deal has eventuated between the two parties, and Chapman is starting to look like a much more likely — and less expensive — option, even if his batting stats pale in comparison.

Last season with the Toronto Blue Jays, Chapman slashed a mediocre .240/.330/.424 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs, though he managed to lead the team in doubles (39) and rank third in OPS (.754). Still, Chapman has proven he can generate power, which is exactly what the Cubs need. Plus, he’s one of the best third basemen in MLB, and his four Gold Glove Awards (2018, 2019, 2021, 2023) and two Platinum Glove Awards (2018, 2019) prove that.

While he may not be Bellinger at the plate, Chapman is a solid second choice for the Cubs. As the offseason drags on and other contenders to sign Chapman continue to eliminate themselves, Chicago may just snag a bargain on a top defender.

Does Jorge Soler’s Signing Mean the Giants Are Out on Matt Chapman?

The Giants have been linked to Chapman all winter, but after adding Soler to their roster, the chances of them adding another star slugger this offseason have considerably diminished.

On February 12, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Giants had agreed to terms on a three-year, $42 million deal with free agent Soler, addressing their need for more offensive power in their lineup and likely closing the door on the team pursuing a deal with Chapman.

Admittedly, Soler fits into the Giants’ roster as a designated hitter, not an infielder, which the team could also use. While San Francisco’s infield gap is at shortstop rather than a third base, adding Chapman to the roster could potentially allow more flexibility to experiment with transitioning top prospect Marco Luciano and even third baseman Casey Schmitt, who spent 42 games in shortstop last season.

Still, that scenario isn’t particularly likely, especially considering the Giants already have a third baseman in J.D. Davis. Prior to Soler’s signing, the team’s interest in Chapman centered around moving Davis to DH to make room for Chapman at third base, but with Soler now stepping into the DH role, the team is unlikely to prioritize an upgrade at third base when that money could be far better spent elsewhere in the roster.

The Giants’ acquisition of Soler definitely means a deal with Chapman this offseason is substantially less likely, if not entirely off the table.

Chapman’s Potential Place on the Cubs’ Roster

If the Cubs manage to close a deal with Bellinger, which is looking less and less likely as the saga drags on, they’re unlikely to also sign Chapman. Still, there’s a reason Bellinger hasn’t already agreed to return to Chicago, and it’s relatively safe to assume that reason is money.

On December 19, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported Bellinger’s agent Scott Boras was looking for a contract north of the $200 million mark. Meanwhile, Sportrac projects Chapman to land a six-year, $103 million deal this winter, which is a substantially cheaper route for the Cubs to take for next season.

Looking to the field, Chapman could slot in as the Cubs’ everyday third baseman with very little shuffling.

The Cubs acquired third baseman Michael Busch in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers on January 11, but considering the team’s need for a first baseman, the youngster was quickly slated to shift into that role.

On February 10, Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins confirmed on Inside The Clubhouse on 670 The Score that Busch will get an opportunity to take over from Bellinger as the team’s everyday first baseman in 2024, which leaves third base open for Chapman to take.

A lot can still happen between now and Opening Day on March 28, and perhaps a reunion with Bellinger is still on the table for the Cubs. However, if they want to take a far less expensive route in 2024, albeit with more potential risks at the plate, Chapman is the backup option to take a second look at.

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