Why does Matt Chapman earn less than Cody Bellinger? A radical change in MLB coaching

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Two fell, and two of the “four Boras” remained to be signed. Plus: Kane on Mike Trout, a drastic coaching change and how Evan Carter or Wyatt Langford may be A decade-long mystery in Texas solved. I'm Levi Weaver here with Ken Rosenthal – welcome to Windup!

Why does Chapman earn less than Bellinger?

Matt Chapman is the latest member of the Boras Four to find a home — he signed a three-year, $54 million contract with the Giants over the weekend. Opting out after each of the first two years would allow Chapman to re-enter the free agent market.

If that sounds familiar, it's probably because Bellinger's deal to return to the Cubs was remarkably similar: three years, $80 million with an opt-out. So why is Chapman's number $26 million lower than Bellinger's, when their production was pretty similar last year? Bellinger finished with 4.4 WAR and 4.1 WAR, while Chapman came in with 4.4 WAR and 3.5 WAR.

Both players, if healthy, will likely become free agents again next winter. In fact, the Giants referred to Chapman's contract as a one-year deal worth $18 million ($16 million in salary, plus a $2 million signing bonus) with two player options. Meanwhile, Bellinger will make $30 million in 2024, a difference of $12 million.

I think there are two reasons for this difference.

First, while neither player is a dinosaur, Chapman (who turns 31 this year) is just over two years older than Bellinger. The older a player is, the more likely he is to sustain an injury, and a bad injury could mean a player opts to sign up in 2025 rather than hit the market while rehabbing.

Second, Chapman struggled mightily in the second half of last year. On May 10, he hit .338/.425/.579 (1.004 OPS) over 36 games. From that point on, he hit .205/.297/.370 (.666 OPS) in his last 104 games.

His return to the Bay Area suggests two things: The team has made good on its promise to improve on defense, and this could be the end of the season. J.D. Davis Afternoon in San Francisco.

More giants:

Ken's notebook: Trout's goal is 2024

After dealing with injuries the past two seasons, Mike Trout is ready to challenge for the MVP award again this year. (Darren Yamashita/USA Today)

From my last column:

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Mike Trout hears the noise. Trout is content to be with the angels. He doesn't want to win. He will not ask for a trade. It doesn't bother him. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“It feeds me more,” Trout said last week in a Fox Sports interview. “The overall satisfaction, when we win here, will be greater than if you go somewhere else.

“So when I hear that Trout needs to be traded, or he's happy to be there, they can say whatever they want. I have one thing on my mind. It's trying to win here.”

Make fun if you have to. Fan graphs The Angels projects to finish 78-84, ahead of only the pathetic A-class of the American League West. Picuta They have it in 74-88.

Trout, 32, isn't ignoring the obvious as the team appears destined to miss the playoffs for the 10th straight season — which is why he continues to press management for free-agent additions. But he has something else on his mind, something that will help boost the team's performance.

He wants to return to the MVP model.

Let's not forget who Trout is, a player who finished first or second in MVP voting seven times in eight years between 2012 and 2019. Until 2022, he has reached 40 goals in just 119 matches. Last season, he had 18 at-bats before July 3, but played in just one game after that because of a broken left femur he suffered on an off-field foul. He finished with an .858 OPS, a career low.

This was the third straight season that Trout missed significant time. In 2021, he did not play after May 17 due to a strain in his right calf. In 2022, he missed more than a month due to inflammation in the left rib cage. Trout said injuries have prevented him from getting into a proper offensive rhythm, the kind that only consistent bats provide. “I couldn't get to a point where I could be myself,” he said.

Can Langford or Carter solve a 10-year-old mystery in Texas?

On November 25, 2013, David Murphy, after being in his final year with the Texas Rangers, signed with Cleveland as a free agent. In the 10 seasons that followed, the Rangers worked 57 different players in left field, including current Rangers assistant manager Will Venable and all-time left fielder Mike Napoli (often in the same game). Leader in left-handed innings played since then? Willie Calhoun has pitched in 1,282 innings, or just over 142 games.

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This running joke is probably approaching its expiration date. Evan Carter — who made his big-league debut on September 8 of last year and hit .300/.417/.500 (.917 OPS) in the postseason — appears poised to be the everyday guy alongside Leody Taveras and Adulis Garcia for the Rangers Outside the stadium on opening day.

But another prospect has been turning heads in Rangers camp. Wyatt Langford, who was selected with the fourth pick of last year's draft, hit three home runs on four hits on Friday and Saturday. After a 1-for-10 start to camp, he hit .353 with a 1.332 OPS.

Keith Law has the 22-year-old Langford ranked sixth on his list of top 100 prospects. But according to one rival scout, that number may be low. “It took two games to put him on the list of top Mount Rushmore prospects I've ever seen,” the scout told me, later explaining that Langford ranks second, just behind Julio Rodriguez.

If there are any issues with Carter, Taveras, or Garcia, Langford could step in and play on the left side. Or, with Mitch Garver leaving via free agency this winter, Langford could work his way into the conversation as the designated hitter by Opening Day.

As director Bruce Bochy Langford said After Saturday's match: “It's only a matter of time with him.”

It's also only a matter of time until the Rangers solve the left field puzzle. Fortunately for them, it looks like the time might be now.

A radical change in MLB coaching

Brett Giroli has insight into the sweeping coaching change that has occurred in pro ball for the better part of a decade now. You may know it as “old school vs. new school,” but to be honest, implementing data-driven coaching isn't really that new anymore.

Giroli cites the Orioles as a prime example of an organization that has implemented changes well, and surprisingly, the Pirates are among the teams that have faced bumps in the road. As she points out, one of the biggest factors in determining success is the extent to which teams are able to completely dispense with the either/or binary and use both schools of thought.

“It's one of the more complicated parts of my job,” Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias says in the article. “Having guys with technology at the top of their roster and guys with live baseball experience at the top. We value both, and trying to put that together to get the right chemistry between all the staff is a very difficult, ongoing balance that we've been dealing with for almost 10 years now.”

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Giroli delves into the history of independent facilities and labs like Driveline, Premier Pitching and Performance, and Tread Athletics, and how the industry has, in fits and starts, worked its way through the process of incorporating coaches from independent facilities into their programs (and sometimes, how the pipeline works in reverse).

It's a great read if you're interested in industry trends that aren't always obvious when watching games.

Handshakes and high fives

It's extension week here The athlete! Looks like Zack Wheeler got the memo; News broke this morning that he and the Phillies have agreed to a three-year, $126 million deal. Find out what Tim Britton thinks about your team's chances of retaining its talent before free agency steals away your favorite player.

Fanatics have broken their silence about the new uniform. In short, they say they are just following orders. Meanwhile, Nick Castellanos has given us more than most Evaluation on point For the case we have heard from one of the players so far.

Speaking of which, players have some ideas on how to speed up the game without putting too much pressure on the court clock.

Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto weren't the only Japanese stars to make their Cactus League debuts recently. Shota Imanaga struck out five times (and allowed a home run) in his debut, and he and the Cubs are refining their philosophy on how to use their fastball against big-league hitters.

Ronald Acuña Jr. will have his sore right knee examined Monday — the same knee that cost him the second half of the 2021 season when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament — after an MRI revealed irritation around the meniscus.

Trea Turner committed more fouls (23) than anyone else last season. Working with coach Bobby Dickerson, he hopes to change that.

Can Ceddanne Rafaela play as a midfielder? The Red Sox certainly hope so.

If Lars Notebaar's swing looks better, thank Nolan Arenado.

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(Top photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today)

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