Reason Cubs didn't sign Matt Chapman is more obvious by the day

The Chicago Cubs opted against signing Matt Chapman as their next third baseman. There's a pretty clear reason why.

Chicago Cubs at Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago Cubs at Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Matt Chapman signed a three-year deal with the San Francisco Giants on Friday night, becoming the second member of the 'Boras 4' to take a below-market deal with several opt-outs this week. Chapman's deal is very similar to Cody Bellinger's, as the duo could test free agency again next season should they outperform expectations.

Despite Chapman's ideal contract length, Chicago's interest waned the last few weeks. The four-time gold glover would've brought some stability to the position defensively, but he did slash just .240/.330/.424 last season with the Blue Jays. The Cubs believe they can replicate that kind of production at a far cheaper price tag.

Cubs manager Craig Counsell has sung the praises of Christopher Morel, fresh off a breakout campaign. While Morel has played several positions over the course of his short MLB career, Counsell believes he projects as a long-term option at third base.

“I'd like to see him at third base,” Counsell said. “Look, Christopher's done so much with the bat that it's our job to figure out the best way to deploy him, right?"

Is Christopher Morel a better long-term third base option for Cubs than Matt Chapman?

The Cubs can't necessarily say with a straight face that they know Morel will turn out well at third base. Defensively, he leaves a lot to be desired there, as he has limited range at the hot corner. However, Morel is young enough to grow into the position. Given his smaller price tag, Counsell believes he is worth the risk.

Third base isn't a position of need for the Cubs with Morel manning the position. Morel provided plenty of power last season and should debut in 2024 near the middle of the Cubs lineup. While signing Chapman would've provided Chicago with more of a 'sure thing', Morel does have a lot of upside at the plate. After this season, the Cubs ought to know for sure whether Morel can play the position consistently, or if he projects more as a DH or corner outfielder.

Not signing Chapman also gives the Cubs more options financially. They can sign one of Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell, if interest, or perhaps Jed Hoyer can swing a deadline move for a starting pitcher on an expiring contract if the Cubs are contending come late July.

Signing Chapman now -- even to a deal that was below his pre-free agency market value, would have limited their future spending.

4 Cubs who won't be back in 2025 after Cody Bellinger contract. 4 Cubs who won't be back in 2025 after Cody Bellinger contract. dark. Next