Matt Chapman’s future with A’s may be determined by 2021

Matt Chapman would be an easy candidate for an extension, but the Oakland A’s may want to see how he bounced back in 2021 first.

The Oakland A’s are going to have to make some decisions in the coming years. Several key members of their core are now eligible for arbitration, meaning that their salaries will increase over the next three seasons. This includes such key pieces as Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Frankie Montas, amongst others.

Normally, there would not be a question that the A’s would look to lock Chapman up to an extension. He has been one of the best third basemen in the game since his arrival in the majors, a stellar defensive player who has been a dangerous power bat in the middle of the lineup. Chapman is exactly the type of player that the A’s need to build around and lock in for their future.

The problem is knowing whether or not Chapman can still be that player. He had missed the end of the 2020 campaign after surgery for a torn hip labrum. While he should be ready for the start of spring training, the A’s will still need to see if he is truly back to being the player he had been in the past.

Those hip issues obviously hampered Chapman in 2020. While he still posted a 122 OPS+, his production was not what it usually was. His .232/.276/.535 batting line was a disappointment, as he struck out 52 times with just eight walks in his 152 plate appearances. Likewise, he was not the brilliant defensive player he had been at the hot corner, as he actually cost the A’s a run with below average range.

Even with those issues, there were still some positives. Chapman had hit ten homers over the course of the season, showing plenty of power. His strikeout rate was skewed by his final 11 plate appearances when he struck out ten times. That injury likely impacted his overall numbers more than any other factor.

But the A’s will need to see that Chapman is healthy again before they can even consider an extension. They are not able to afford to miss on any long term contracts due to their ongoing financial situation. Unfortunately, that may mean that they have to take a wait and see approach on Chapman.

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Just a year ago, there would not have been a question that the Oakland A’s would want to extend Matt Chapman. Now they need to make sure that he is back to being the player he had been.