If we know one bizarre quirk about the recent free agent landscape, it's that mega-man Steve Cohen of the Mets loves to spend -- unless a Hal Steinbrenner free agent target is involved.
The collaboration goes both ways; Cohen avoiding the Aaron Judge chase made little sense, save for this explanation. Brandon Nimmo would've made perfect sense for the Yankees, especially at his cost -- but, again, no. Best friends don't cross one another.
According to MLB insider Jon Heyman, that credo could be tested this summer. What if the target isn't an incumbent Yankee or Met, but rather a Blue Jay who could fill the third base void on both rosters?
Third baseman Matt Chapman has begun 2023 as a walking flame, beginning the walk year of his dreams by hitting .421 with a 1.203 OPS through 16 games. Those are Spencer Jones numbers happening at the big-league level, paired with some of the consensus best third base defense in the game.
Would the Mets really pay top dollar for him, with slugging prospect Brett Baty finally arriving to claim the position? Would the Yankees really spend on Chapman now that his price is rising, rather than falling? And would either team really get in the other's way?
Yankees Rumors: Matt Chapman a fit for New York Mets, Yanks?
Per Heyman, the other suitors who could shake up this chase include the Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, and Chapman's current team, the Blue Jays, who might not want to foster his bloom only to let someone else reap the rewards.
According to Heyman, the logic is simple. Josh Donaldson's albatross contract will finally have ended (only two years, but felt like a lifetime), while Eduardo Escobar has proven not to be the solution in Flushing. Besides, the Mets already tried to sign a high-profile third baseman once in Carlos Correa. Even though it didn't stick, it's quite possible Cohen isn't sold on the kids (Baty, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos) as being hot corner solutions long-term.
Without Manny Machado on the free agent market any longer, the list of position player options is bleak. It's possible the Yankees did all their upper-tier shopping this past offseason when they brought Judge back permanently and imported Carlos Rodón, but if they want to reach the "next level," they're going to need another bat or two. Chapman would be an excellent fit at a position of need, but it's possible the Judge chase will stop them here, too.
Not just financially, but because it'll serve as a reminder of Cohen's leniency, which might stop Hal Steinbrenner from crossing his crosstown friend.