Justin Turner didn’t seem like a good fit for the Cubs given their current circumstances, so it wasn’t surprising in the least that he signed elsewhere. Though adding a veteran who’s still very capable at the plate is never a bad idea, Turner is mainly a DH at this point and probably won’t play third base in anything other than an emergency role. He’s also a right-handed hitter, which isn’t ideal for the Cubs even if you consider his excellent platoon splits.
The other wrinkle here is that Jed Hoyer probably would not have considered the same $13 million guarantee Toronto was able to offer. With several other players, most notably Christopher Morel and Michael Busch, expected to get plenty of time at the corners and DH, I’d imagine the Cubs would not have been comfortable with much more than half of that figure had Turner’s market not developed.
That same idea now holds true for Matt Chapman, whose market may have clarified a bit with the Turner signing. I’m not so sure about that because Chapman is an everyday third baseman, but Jon Morosi tweeted as much while listing the Cubs and Giants as being “among Chapman’s possible landing spots.” Just as above, however, it’s hard to see Hoyer’s player-value model spitting out a total that’s amenable to Chapman and agent Scott Boras.
In addition to Morel and Busch, Matt Shaw is expected to make a push for the big leagues this year and is very limited positionally. Currently listed as a shortstop, he’s been taking almost all of his reps at third base in anticipation of the eventuality that he’ll be up to help a team that already features Gold Glove middle infielders. Signing Chapman would effectively block Shaw unless the Cubs move multiple players in one or more trades by the time he’s ready.
Hell, we haven’t even touched on Patrick Wisdom, Miles Mastrobuoni, Matt Mervis, and Nick Madrigal, all of whom factor in the rotation for at least one corner infield spot and DH. For all their talk about finding a spot for Morel by getting him reps at first and third, I believe the Cubs view him as primarily a DH. Given all that, not to mention the requisite qualifying offer draft pick forfeiture, I’m having a hard time reconciling the idea of them getting anywhere near initial projections of six years and $150 million for Chapman.
Even half of that sounds like a stretch, so you have to think the Giants or another team would be a better fit. As much as I like the idea of an infield that sees Chapman paired with Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner, particularly if Cody Bellinger is at first, getting there is like when I tried to complete one of those wooden marble mazes. You know, the ones where you used wheels on either side to shift a platform in a box to navigate the marble and avoid a multitude of holes.
There are too many obstacles for the Cubs and Chapman to agree on something big, or so it seems, though it’s a different story if he ends up settling for a prove-it deal. That’s something Arizona Phil had proposed relative to Bellinger, it just makes way more sense for a guy coming off of a very rough second half. It’d be a big leap of faith by Chapman since he’s entering his age-31 season, and the loss of a pick looms even larger there, so I’m not looking at that outcome as particularly likely.
As we’ve noted before, it’s gotten to where Bellinger is really the only option that makes sense given where the Cubs stand. Whether his asking price drops to the level that they and other teams feel comfortable making formal offers, well, that’s a different story.