You will notice that I rarely write about potential free agents the Giants could or may sign to use as filler during the offseason. Many baseball sites do this and I understand why. It’s dark and dreary with no baseball and not much baseball news. It’s just that for me all the speculation doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, to quote Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca. I think it’s a waste of time and I can think of more interesting topics to write about, Giants-wise. Today however, I will make an exception and write about Matt Champan. More specifically I want to explain why I think it’s a terrible idea and a huge mistake for the franchise (it can be both, trust me) to sign Chapman, who is a fine ball player by any metric, regardless of his age (He’ll be 31 in April).
Last year, according to Baseball Reference, Chapman was worth 4.4 WAR, a stat I am reluctant to cite because of its dubious methods of calculation but as a measure of his worth in the popular consciousness of baseballdom I am willing to address it. He batted .240 and hit 17 homers. He is, by any measure, on the downside of his career whether we like it or not. A big part of Matt Chapman’s game is his superior defense at third base. He won his sixth gold glove last season and appears to be continuing his excellence manning the hot corner going into his age 31 season.
For a team in or on the cusp of contention for a World Series (not just a postseason berth), and a team with plus offense, a guy like Chapman can be a difference-maker. For a team short on third baseman, Chapman could be a major acquisition filling a need. But the Giants are neither of these things. Here’s why:
- The Giants are light years from being a World Series Contender (hence Chapman will not put them over the top)
- The Giants already have J. D. Davis and Casey Schmitt for third base.
- The Giants don’t need to spend money on a veteran that will block the development of a player like Schmitt or even Luciano
- The Giants need to think about building from the ground up and play their youth. They need to evaluate their top prospects and give them a chance to grow into quality Major Leaguers, even if that means sacrificing a few wins and a postseason berth along the way.
- The Giants DO NOT NEED any more past their prime veterans, no matter how well they may be playing at age 30. It never ends well with these types of free agents. It is the wrong move to make from a financial and a developmental perspective as well.
- Signing Matt Chapman will cost the Giants a compensatory Draft Pick! With the Giants in rebuilding mode they need every draft pick they can get.
Matt Chapman, I repeat, is a very good ball player. He just does not make sense for the Giants right now. Let’s see what we have in Casey Schmitt. Let him play a full season at third, no matter how much he struggles at the plate. His glove is exceptional and he is homegrown! Remember BCraw? When he came up in 2011 there was every indication that he would be a fine shortstop and the Giants would be pleased if he hit above the Mendoza Line. He turned out better, much better than that at the plate. Maybe Schmitt will t0o. The message needs to be sent to the Giants youth: “We believe in you. This is your shot. We will give you all the rope in the world.”
When the front office is constantly acquiring stop-gap measures in fringe players and past their prime veterans, it sends a very poor message to the young players and makes for a bad ju-ju identity for a team in need of youth and energy. It’s a flawed philosophy of half-measures and it has not worked in the past five seasons. It’s time to think fresh and build from within. It’s how the Giants won all those World Series Trophies not so long ago. Once the Giants have an established core of talent then the addition or two of players like Chapman will make sense. Remember Marco Scutaro? But not now. Now is the time to play the youngsters and commit to them, whether they are called “Schmitt” or “Matos” or “Luciano.” We have nothing to lose. Continuing in mediocrity with the same old moves of the past five years will not cut it.