There was a rumor last week, in tandem with worth that Javy Báez had reps meeting with the Mets, that his market was surprisingly hot at the GM Meetings.
Beyond the Mets, though, it wasn’t entirely clear what teams were in on Báez, especially if he was going to be the first of the top shortstops to go. The Cubs would probably stay “in,” but we suspect only in the case where the market doesn’t develop, and Báez seeks a short-term pillow contract in a comfortable situation (or a longer-term deal on terms the Cubs couldn’t refuse).
So who else is in? Well, here’s at least one other suitor:
Red Sox are among many teams showing interest in Javy Baez, who enhanced his market by showing unusual plate discipline and finishing big with the Mets.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 16, 2021
On the Red Sox, Báez would make sense at second base, with Xander Bogaerts entrenched, successfully, at shortstop. Báez has previously said he would stick at second base for the Mets, and would be wise generally not to close off the possibility elsewhere if it expanded his market. The problem, obviously, is that a shortstop-needy team should, in theory, be willing to pay more for a guy they really like at shortstop than a second-base-needy team would be willing to pay at second base. That said, Báez could be a truly elite defender at second base – we’ve seen it before – and maybe he would get paid accordingly regardless of his named position.
That said, at a gut level, this has the feel of a rumor being floated from Báez’s camp to remind interested teams that he’s going to have options out there at second base, in addition to the Mets. So it’s a poke at the Mets to step up, but also a reminder to the shortstop market that he doesn’t have to wait for them.
It makes you wonder, together with the Mets rumors, whether Báez is one of those guys who wants to sign before the CBA expires on December 1. So far, only the pitching market has moved (well, and one guy in the back-up catcher market), but there have been rumors about big-time position players also potentially going before December.
It could be that Báez knows he doesn’t quite stack up with the top couple options in the shortstop group, and doesn’t want to be the one left holding the bag if there’s a lockout, and then a fever rush to sign in February. Signing a really solid long-term deal right now – even if modestly less than he might get in a maxed out situation in, say, mid-December if there were NO lockout – might be his best move.
Wherever he goes, I’ll follow Báez’s market with interest, not only because of the obvious connection with the Cubs, but also because he’s one of the most entertaining players in the game.