Look, I can be as big a prospect hugger as anyone, but the more I look at the haul of prospects Oakland received from the Blue Jays for 3B Matt Chapman, the more I like it.
For both sides.
In exchange for Chapman, the Blue Jays gave up last year’s first round pick, RHP Gunnar Hoglund (who is still about two months away from a return to competition after Tommy John surgery), LHP Zach Logue, SS/3B Kevin Smith, and LHP Kirby Snead. On paper, it’s a good deal for both clubs. The Blue Jays get more help on the left side of their infield, as well as some more pop, and the Athletics get three guys who could break camp with their team, and one who might be there by 2024.
When you consider Toronto gave up 2020 first rounder Austin Martin and top pitching prospect Simeon Woods Richardson last year to the Twins in order to land Jose Berrios, the upper levels of the system are a little thin now, but there is still a high overall quality of talent. And some of that depth will be augmented this summer when the Jays will have a pair of compensation picks in the MLB draft for the the loss of free agents Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, in addition to the 23rd overall pick.
Smith is one of the great development stories in the Blue Jays organization. Regarded as a glove-first player when drafted in the 4th round in 2017, Smith has worked hard to develop himself as a hitter. He’s had his ups and downs as a minor leaguer, but his promotion last year was well deserved, although it did expose his issues with making consistent contact. Still, he’s a versatile guy who has great baseball instincts, and can fill a role for Oakland, maybe as an everyday player, or as a super utility type.
Logue has always been one of my favourite pitchers to watch. Not blessed initially with top-shelf velo, the former Cincinnati high school hockey defenceman has had to develop his command and secondary pitches to reach AAA. Last year, he was sitting mid-90s with his fastball, and he fanned better than a batter per inning. Similarly, Snead – owner of perhaps the best slider in the system – is on the fringes of a big league job. Both pitchers were pushed down the depth chart in Toronto, and now they get a chance to make a big league roster.
Hoglund was the key to the deal, and while you hate to give up pitching, he’s at least two years away from helping a team that wants to win now.
This was a good deal for both sides. In Toronto, we’re going to have to learn to live with Chapman’s whiffs, but this is a guy who should make the 25-man roster better.