It’s deja vu all over again.
The Oakland A’s traded third baseman Matt Chapman to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, first reported by former MLB player Carlos Baerga, then later by MLB insider Jon Morosi and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, and finally confirmed by the team. This is the A’s third major trade in the past five days, as they embark on a rebuilding process.
In return for Chapman, the A’s receive four prospects from the Jays: RHP Gunnar HoglundH.H kevin smithLHP Zach Logueand LHP Kirby Snead.
Hoglund is the headliner of the package, ranking No. 4 in Toronto’s system per MLB Pipeline and No. 5 per Baseball America. He was the team’s 1st-round draft pick last summer, No. 19 overall, but he would have been selected even higher if not for Tommy John surgery in May. The 22-year-old is still recovering from that operation and hasn’t yet made his pro debut, but his profile includes great control, three above-average pitches (fastball, slider, changeup), and praise for his easy delivery.
- Hoglund: No pro stats yet (Tommy John surgery)
Smith ranked No. 9 in the Jays system per Pipeline and No. 7 per BA. He’s a good defender with a plus arm who’s expected to be able to handle any of shortstop, second base, or third base, but there are questions about his inconsistent bat from him. He hit well in the lower-minors in 2018 but then stalled for a couple years, before bouncing back strong last summer in Triple-A and earning a brief MLB debut. He has some power in his right-handed swing and a willingness to make adjustments, but he’ll need to provide himself quickly as he’s approaching his 26th birthday in July.
- Smith, 2021 AAA: .285/.370/.561, 144 wRC+, 21 HR, 11.2% BB, 23.7% Ks
- Smith, 2021 MLB: 3-for-32 (.094), 1 HR, 3 BBs, 11 Ks
Logue was Toronto’s No. 27 prospect per Pipeline, and No. 24 per BA. He enjoyed something of a breakout last summer, using increased velocity and a new cutter to help pump up his strikeout rate. He still doesn’t throw hard, in the low-90s, but he adds some disappointment and several competent secondaries including a slider, change, and now the cutter. His ceiling of him is low and this will be his age-26 season, but he could stick as a backend starter, as soon as this year.
- Log, 2021 AA: 4.54 ERA, 35⅔ ip, 51 Ks, 7 BB, 6 HR, 3.52 FIP
- Log, 2021 AAA: 3.32 ERA, 89⅓ ip, 93 Ks, 20 BB, 9 HR, 3.56 FIP
Snead didn’t crack the Jays Top 30 prospect list, but he’s a 27-year-old lefty reliever who already debuted in MLB. He spent most of last summer in Triple-A, piling up strikeouts and keeping the ball in the park, which is generally what he’s done throughout his pro career. That performance earned him seven games in the majors, where he used four pitches — a slider that got primary billing, two 93 mph fastballs (sinker and four-seamer) that each topped out around 94-95, and a changeup.
- Snead, 2021 AAA: 1.58 ERA, 40 ip, 57 Ks, 16 BB, 1 HR, 2.11 FIP
- Snead, 2021 MLB: 2.35 ERA, 7 ip, 7 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR, 2.52 FIP
Of course, it’s impossible not to notice the coincidence of the A’s sending another All-Star third baseman to the Blue Jays. Seven years ago they infamously traded Josh Donaldson to Toronto for a package of four players that didn’t end up panning out, and now they’ll take another crack at it with Chapman.
This swap comes on the heels of two other blockbuster deals shipping out All-Stars, as on Saturday they traded pitcher Chris Bassett to the Mets, and on Monday they sat first baseman matt olson to the Braves. Between the three deals combined, they’ve netted 10 total prospects to help begin restoring their farm system.
I have a bad feeling about this one. The thing I loved about the Olson trade package was that it wasn’t just injury bounce-backs and spare parts, it was impact talents and promising secondary names. The Chapman package feels like an injury bounce-back and spare parts.
Don’t get me wrong, each of these prospects has something to offer, but not at the level of costing Chapman. The headliner is an injured pitcher who’s never thrown a pro pitch, and if all goes well then the others profile as a utilityman, a backend starter, and a reliever who will all finish the summer at age 26 or older. Prospects are difficult to predict so maybe some of these will be the ones who pan out as contributors, but it sure seems underwhelming at this time.
If this was all they could get for Chapman, then keeping him might have been the better bet. His value of him is down right now with reasonable hope it might go back up this year, so why not gamble on that and try again in July? If the goal is stocking serious talent for the next core, then this doesn’t push the needle much if at all, so why bother? There’s no rule that all the trades have to happen in the same week, and they’ll be cutting enough to payroll that his 2022 salary shouldn’t be a dealbreaker even on their meager budget.
It feels like the Donaldson trades all over again. The problem back then was they made a retool trade for lower-ceiling MLB-ready players while getting only one young prospect, and that’s exactly what they’ve done here with Chapman, even handing him to the same team to drive home the comparison. The similarity is so uncanny that it almost feels like an April Fool’s joke two weeks early, because there’s no way they made the exact same mistake againright?
Hopefully not, but we’ll see. What’s certain for now is the Matts are both gone, there are four new prospects on the farm, and it’s been zero days since we last discussed the Josh Donaldson trade.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism