Although the implications of the injury – and its terrible timing – don’t change much from the discussion yesterday, here’s a little update on Javier Baez’s broken left ring finger.
Originally, the estimate on Baez’s recovery ranged widely, from four to eight weeks. In a season of six months, having a near month’s variance is a pretty huge swing. Unfortunately, after another day, it sounds like the Cubs are expecting things to be on the longer side for a Baez return. Cubs Senior VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod says that the range is more like six to eight weeks, with six weeks being a quick return, and eight being the more conservative estimate (Mark Gonzales, Jesse Rogers, Bruce Miles).
At six weeks, Baez would be back in action for the final two weeks of July, which could be significant with the Trade Deadline looming on July 31 – not only because Baez could be a potential trade piece for the Cubs if they’re looking to make a serious upgrade externally, but also because a healthy Baez might instead give the Cubs the option of “upgrading” internally but bringing him up and shuffling the positional deck.
With a conservative timeline of eight weeks for a return, though, it seems unlikely that Baez would be able to be back and playing quickly enough to provide much more information than “ok, he’s healthy” before July 31 rolls around. And with so many questions about his swing and his approach coming into this year, I’m not sure the accumulated data is going to be enough for any team – including the Cubs – to do anything major with Baez at the center of it.
In other words, because of the timeline of this injury, I would not expect to see Baez dealt before the deadline (if that was even on the table anyway), and instead it’s more likely that his impact on the 2015 Cubs would come later in August and September at the big league level. That’d be the hope, anyway.
For his part, Baez is more optimistic than the Cubs, telling Tommy Birch that he’s still hoping to be back shortly after the original four-week lower-bound estimate. The only question, according to Baez, is how quickly the bone heals – which is not necessarily something anyone other than Wolverine can control. Hopefully Baez does have a little natural quick-healing ability, and the bone part takes care of itself faster than expected. From there, it’ll just be a matter of getting back into a groove with his swing, perhaps with a little time in Arizona before returning to Iowa.