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The Cubs and Matt Chapman; a match made in heaven

Matt Chapman has been one of the bigger so-called "Statcast darlings" in baseball for many years. He's been amongst the league leaders in process stats like exit velocity, barrel %, hard hit %, chase rate, and fielding stats that measure his range and arm strength.

He's just really, really good, and he doesn't get as much attention as other big-time players because, well, his more basic result stats aren't super sexy. His batting average is low, he doesn't drive in a whole bunch of runs, yet he's consistently been an above-average hitter and an elite defensive player at third base pretty much his whole career, and he stays healthy. Hey, he's not a bad base runner either, averaging 2+ baserunning runs per season over the past 3 years.

Great, he's awesome, but isn't he going to be expensive?

You bet. If someone as unimportant and uneducated as myself is writing about how great Matt Chapman is, you can bet your bottom dollar that his agent knows it, and other teams around the league know it. He's not going to be cheap, and he's not likely to settle for a low-year commitment.

This is Chapman's first (and perhaps only) chance at cashing in on the open market, and it seems like most projections have him earning a 5-year deal with around $100-$125 million in total value.

This is not a bargain, but not breaking the bank either, and from the Cubs perspective, having your infield consist of Chapman, Dansby Swanson, and Nico Hoerner for the next few years is absolutely dynamite.

This would shift Patrick Wisdom and/or Christopher Morel to first and DH, or allow Chicago to go shopping for a veteran lefty 1B/DH (Brandon Belt comes to mind) to further balance out their righty-heavy lineup.

Their pitching staff consisting of contact-first, ground ball pitchers like Justin Steele and Kyle Hendricks (both were in the upper third of baseball in ground ball rates and neither are above-average in strikeout rates) only furthers the argument that they should be focused on defensive-minded players like Chapman.

What about the Cubs bringing back Cody Bellinger?

First, let me start by saying the Cubs could absolutely sign both.

They just gave out the biggest contract in baseball for a manager to Craig Counsell. Why do that if you're not going to give him a decent team to write in the lineup card?

But if Chicago is weird and going to decide between the 2, Bellinger offers a higher ceiling as his hitting profile is enticing if he can keep up last year's production. But, the fear of injuries returning or his batted-ball luck coming back to bite him (his xwOBA was average and his barrel and hard-hit rates were very low) may push the Cubs towards Chapman, especially since Bellinger is projected to make a bit more money than the Gold Glove-winning third baseman.

Plus, Pete Crow-Armstrong, their young elite defensive center field prospect, is itching to earn that starting spot. Given, he can either be flipped for pitching or Bellinger can be moved to first base or a corner outfield spot, so again, Bellinger and Chapman would be more than acceptable, but hey, have to be realistic.

So all in all, if the Cubs are serious about contending this year in the weak-at-best NL Central, Chapman should 100% be a huge focus for them.

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Great read thanks!

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