Who’s ready for a very positive offseason development? I know I sure am!
Per the Sun-Times’ sources, the Cubs have started negotiating a potential long-term extension with Javy Baez, who otherwise has two years of control via arbitration remaining.[*takes deep breath*]
To be sure, we’ve known since back in August that the Cubs were planning to seriously discuss an extension with Baez. With Baez a premium defender and positive offensive contributor, he’s one of the most valuable shortstops in the game, and one of the most irreplaceable players on the Cubs’ roster. That the Cubs would want to lock him in beyond 2021 is a no-brainer. Remember: smoothing the transition from this competitive window to the next isn’t all about acquiring new players – it’s also about making sure you can keep the ones you have for a little bit longer.
Baez, 27 next month, couldn’t quite replicate his MVP-runner-up 2018 campaign in 2019, but even dealing with multiple injuries, he still managed to hit .281/.316/.531 (114 wRC+) over 138 games. That, plus his elite defense made him worth 4.4 WAR, despite playing only five months.
That said, coming off a down-ish, injured-ish season might make an extension more realistic than it was last year at this time, with Baez breaking out. If the sides feel like Baez’s baseline is something between his 2018 and 2019 seasons, then they might be able to come together on a reasonable extension. Xander Bogaerts might be the closest comp on an extension given their performance, though he was a year closer to free agency when he received his six-year, $120 million deal (plus a team option at $20 million).
Here’s hoping the Cubs and Baez work something out, because I don’t think anyone wants to see a Cubs team in the near future without El Mago at shortstop. More on this coming, I’m sure.