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Shooting for a star: Reusse’s bold trade target, A’s Matt Chapman

I have to admit a bit of a fascination. I’m unendingly compelled by the idea that one of these days the Twins are going to go outside of their walls and land a big fish and make waves in the Major League landscape.

Ever since Thad Levine told a crowd of interested Twins listeners at a fan event inside Target Field in January that the Twins would try to line up “the who” and “the when” in pursuit of that elusive superstar – since that day I’ve just been really interested in that as a possibility. Especially against the backdrop of a good number of people who don’t believe him.

So who will be that megastar? Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are off the board for a while. Mike Trout, an actual megastar, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Nolan Arenado agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in Colorado for the foreseeable future. Let’s keep going down the list of some the game’s best players in recent history.

Alex Bregman has his extension with the Astros. Christian Yelich hasn’t struck it super-rich yet, although what’s the likelihood of the Brewers moving on?

Anthony Rendon is a free agent this winter, so there’s one possibility. Ditto for Gerrit Cole. Mookie Betts has one year left in Boston before he can become a free agent and the Red Sox can get their apparent wish of being worse and more affordable.

The point is that there aren’t too many stars up for grabs these days, or any days, really. It’s like a franchise QB in the NFL. Don’t have one? Good luck. Want to target one? Good luck.

So, with that as a scene setter, I present to you the idea that Patrick Reusse shared this week on “Reusse on Baseball,” his weekly tentpole in the SKOR North Twins Show: What if the Twins called the Oakland A’s and crafted a trade for young star third baseman, Matt Chapman?

I was instantly intrigued, since the 26-year-old Chapman simultaneously has these two things: 1) A valid case over the title of the best third baseman in baseball; and 2) Four more seasons until he’s eligible for free agency. He’s so good I hardly even considered him as a possibility.

What are the odds of getting a deal done? It doesn’t seem like an easy swap from Minnesota’s perspective. That to me looks like one of those name-your-price trades, and if I’m Oakland I’m asking for a ridiculous amount to move on from a guy who is not really replaceable.

[You can hear Reusse on Baseball every Monday at 6pm on SKOR North.]

Why they would:

-Well, if we’re looking for reasons, they do have another star player in Marcus Semien (a free agent after 2020).
-They don’t have infinite resources, so the assumption would be that they couldn’t fight to keep Chapman around long-term. Their stadium situation probably isn’t doing them any favors.
-Could Oakland ever command more in a trade than at this point in his career? An affordable superstar with four years left of team control — it’s the stuff of dreams for some baseball executives.
-Think of how much hope they could sell for the future!

Why they wouldn’t:

-They won 97 games in 2019, and shouldn’t be looking to throttle down.
-They were 10 games worse than the Astros this year and comfortably better than the next challengers in their division. (Does that change if Houston receives major punishment from MLB?; does the Wild Card landscape look drastically different in 2020?; Will Anaheim surround Trout and Shohei Ohtani with more awesome players and try to clear a .500 record again?)
-The A’s only have two players and roughly $22 million on the books for the 2021 season; not much in the way of heavy long-term commitments.
-And then there’s the pesky detail of Chapman being one of the best players in baseball.

Over the past 2 seasons, the A’s third baseman has hit .263/.348/.507 with 60 homers in two years. Add that to a glove at the hot corner that some consider the best in the world, and you’ve got yourself a great young superstar.

Personally, as much as I respect the Reckless Speculation, I don’t see how Oakland moves on from a player of Chapman’s caliber and contract status. But if they’ll entertain the discussion I’d at least sit down at the table to talk.

If it happens, I’ll tip my cap to Reusse as the first to suggest it. If it doesn’t, then I’ll keep my eyes up and my ears glued to that ongoing hunt for big-swing superstar.


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