Lost in the shuffle of … everything that’s happened this year is the progress that had been made on an extension for Javy Baez. Like several of his most talented peers, the Cubs star shortstop has just one year of team control remaining after this shortened 2020 season, and everyone – from Baez, to the Cubs, to his teammates, to his fans – wants to see something get done before that matters. Fortunately, the spring before a player’s second-to-final season of control is often a natural checkpoint for those sorts of discussions, and right on cue, things sure seemed to be humming along back in March.
Although nothing felt particularly imminent at the time, extension talks had been progressing previously, and I was as optimistic as I had been that Javy Baez could be a Cub for life (or at least the next 5-7 years). However, those talks were put on hold, as the league (and world) navigated the impact of the virus/league shutdown, and we haven’t really heard much since. Until today.
Speaking with the media (via Zoom) Baez addressed his extension status, and although it was largely a non-update given the circumstances, the discussion still matters.
Here’s what he had to say:
Javier Baez said that the line of communication with the Cubs on a contract extension is good but this is not the time to talk about. He feels after the season and when the pandemic clams down would be the proper time.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) July 9, 2020
Javy Baez did his Zoom call with his glove on. On contract talks, he said: “I’m not in a rush.” Said it’s difficult to have dialogue right now with everything that’s going on. Thinks talks with Cubs will pick up again after the baseball and country climate calms down. pic.twitter.com/9gYlDEsK2l
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 9, 2020
On Baez’s first point there — “now is not the time” — that’s certainly true in more ways than one.
On the surface, the logistics of actually hammering out an extension right now aren’t ideal – from the financial uncertainty (a huge hurdle we’ll discuss in a second) to the simple fact that the players are dealing with and preparing for a LOT at the moment. The added stress and distraction of extension negotiations should not be thrown on anyone’s plate so close to the most unusual season in baseball history. For another, I’m sure it just feels wrong to sign a hundred+ million deal in this financial environment – not that it should (gets yours and whatnot), but we’re all people and sometimes that stuff matters.
But most importantly, agreeing on the value of an extension right now may be as difficult as ever – something of which Baez’s camp is evidently aware:
Javier Báez on contract talks with Cubs: “Everybody wants to get paid, but we got to wait for the right time. On each side, we got to see and we got to know what’s right for each other. I’m not in a rush. We’re trying to win this season that is going to be so weird.”
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) July 9, 2020
To whatever extent you believe, the Cubs will generate significantly less revenue this season and that’s sure to be true across the league. And if the financial impact of COVID-19 drifts into the offseason (it will) as well as 2021 (it might), then the entire financial landscape of MLB is about to change … one year before the entire general landscape of MLB will change because of a new CBA.
So regardless of the expected/projected production and marketability of a player like Javy Baez, any extension decision TODAY would be making wilding assumptions of the financial landscape over the next several months that aren’t certain to be true – there’s always some guessing, but this obviously very different. I don’t think anybody – the Cubs or Baez (or any other player in a similar situation for that matter) – is itching to be the first one through the gate.
No. I think a more likely and safer path forward would be to see how this season plays out (if it does at all) and how things move in the offseason. If at that point the market returns to normal or resets at a different level, both sides will feel more comfortable moving forward. I don’t think that necessarily helps the likelihood of a deal getting done – in fact, I think this all probably makes things more difficult (Baez will be just one year away from free agency instead of two) – but perhaps he can relate to Kris Bryant, who implied a little more willingness to lock in some security now that the world is a very different place than it was before.
I really do believe the Cubs will do what it takes to keep Javy Baez in Chicago for as long as possible, but those discussion, however fruitful in the past, are just not going to happen right now.