Should the Braves make a play for Matt Chapman?

dnu200821004 laa at oak

Earlier this week, A’s vet and Starting 9 host Dallas Braden gave us some cryptic news… which I immediately began speculating on like a crazy person.

Chapman is a fan favorite in Oakland for a good reason. He plays absolute lockdown defense at the hot corner and can mash. He’s coming off of a “down” 2020 in which he hit for an .812 OPS with 10 HRs in 37 games. He’s still just a year removed from his second straight PLATINUM glove, an .848 OPS, and 36 bombs in 156 games.

I have no idea why Oakland would ever entertain trading Chapman, but we’ve seen them deal high profile players in the past. The prospect ask would be astronomical, but Atlanta would be a perfect suitor. Austin Riley has been pretty good, but Chappy is an absolute game-changer, and he would immediately solidify Atlanta’s infield as the best in the majors without question.

It might also give the Braves a legitimate shot at the claim of being the best team in baseball. Remember, they were just a lucky bounce here or there away from beating the Dodgers in the NLCS, and as Clint pointed out in his latest piece regarding Austin Riley’s role in Atlanta moving forward, third base was a glaring weakness for the Braves. The combination of Riley, Camargo, and Sandoval totaled -0.5 fWAR — good for last in the majors. Replacing that with one of the best all-around players in baseball would instantly put the Braves in the running for the best team in baseball for years to come.

Chapman, who is entering his first year of arbitration, is projected by Spotrac to earn a salary of $3.5 million in 2021. He has two arbitration-eligible years remaining after that, keeping his salary more than reasonable through the 2023 season. For a team like the A’s, though, if a contract extension can’t be worked out soon, it may be in their best interest to move Chapman in the near future. Still, it would be pretty incredible to see the A’s trade away one of their best players while he is still so affordable after they ran away with the NL West in the shortened season. Talk about turning off a fanbase, which is why a Chapman deal seems highly unlikely this offseason. However, it is something to keep an eye on in the future, especially if Riley does not show some improvements at the plate.

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