Mark Feinsand of MLB.com ranked the top 10 MLB free agents of the offseason and came up with three teams who’d be a fit for them. Yoshinobu Yamamoto has grabbed the eye of most New York Mets fans as the primary target. He was an honorable mention on the list because he hasn’t officially made the jump to MLB.
Still, among the other 10, only one has the Mets pinned at the bottom as a fit. It’s not Shohei Ohtani either. It’s a slightly more surprising name.
Previously a dream for Mets fans, Matt Chapman is a free agent Feinsand sees possibly ending up in Queens. The Toronto Blue Jays third baseman cooled off in a major way after a monstrous start to the season. Exactly why would the Mets go seeking him out?
Uncertainty with Brett Baty at third base could have the NY Mets pivoting to a more proven option
Brett Baty is back on the MLB roster, but the third base job isn’t necessarily all his. The Mets have several directions they can go at the hot corner. It includes Baty. It may even involve Ronny Mauricio shifting over there.
What about Chapman? A Gold Glove winner and power hitter in the past, the fit is plain to see. Feinsand has him ranked as the third best MLB free agent behind only Shohei Ohtani and Cody Bellinger. If the Mets land him, a bunch more dominoes could fall soon after.
The two other teams listed along with the Mets are the Blue Jays and New York Yankees. The Blue Jays are there for obvious reasons. A lack of other choices for the ball club to replace him should have Toronto seeking a reunion. The Yankees, meanwhile, will be in search of life after Josh Donaldson who was unceremoniously released by the club in late August.
Chapman will fall well short of the 27 home runs he hit in each of the last two seasons. His batting average, however, has a good chance to top the .210 he hit in 2021 and the .229 posted in 2022. Chapman will turn 31 at the end of next April, making him around the average age of most free agents.
The question for the Mets will come down to how much faith they have in any of their present day third base options. Signing Chapman this offseason removes one more chance for a kid to get into the everyday lineup. Not signing him makes it tougher to find a solution if none of them work out.
If the expectation truly is for the Mets to take a step back this winter and avoid too many huge contracts, passing up a chance to sign Chapman seems likely. How much will they value his defense in comparison to what is lost at the plate in terms of the dinosaur statistic of batting average?