The Athletics announced on Thursday that third baseman Matt Chapman underwent surgery — an ulnar sided sesamoid bone excision — on his left thumb. Chapman is expected to be ready for the start of spring training in February.
Chapman, 25, just finished his first full season in the majors. He hit .278/.356/.508 with 24 home runs and 68 RBI in 616 plate appearances. He also played arguably the best defense among third basemen in the league. According to Baseball Reference, he was worth 8.2 Wins Above Replacement. The only players with more were Mookie Betts (10.9) and Mike Trout (10.2).
Chapman will not become eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 season, but the A’s were reportedly considering approaching him about a contract extension earlier this season. If that remains true, an extension could be hammered out by the start of next season, buying out both of his pre-arb years followed by three of his arb years and potentially one or two of his free agency years.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.