We know the Detroit Tigers are loaded with young, controllable talent, and had a really solid showing in the second half last year. They’ve got a veteran manager in place. And now they want to start adding big-time free agent talent to push them forward in 2022. It’s a very post-2014 Cubs vibe.
Maybe they want to make that parallel even more explicit by important a long-time Cubs talent:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 26, 2021
The Tigers have a huge and obvious hole at shortstop, so the market this year lines up well for them. It only makes sense that they would explore all of the top options, including Javy Báez.
Of course, given their persistent connection to top free agent Carlos Correa, this report immediately makes you wonder whether it is being leaked to apply a little pressure to Correa’s camp, especially in advance of the CBA expiration. I doubt you could get Correa to sign shy of $300 million right now, but you can’t know until you start making a push. (Hey, for all we know, the Tigers ARE willing to pay over $300 million for Correa.)
As for Báez and the Tigers, I mean, it is certainly conceivable there’s real interest there. Báez, for all his warts, is such a magnetic talent that any team with a hole at shortstop (or second base) should want to have this conversation. I will add that Morosi is very well-connected in Detroit, and his wording there – that they’ve actually talked about a contract – is a little more specific than you usually see in these situations.
The thinking has long been that Báez would most likely return to the New York Mets, with a smaller chance that he might linger on the market and ultimately take a shorter-term deal to return to the Chicago Cubs. Beyond that, it’s been a lot of guesswork on his possible market. Maybe the Tigers are trying to slide in and get him on a perceived bargain deal before the CBA expires next week? Speculation has had Báez’s possible price tag in the $150+ million range, which strikes me as on the high side. But that’s what it might take to get him to sign before the market more fully develops on the positional side.
UPDATE: Buster Olney describes it as the Tigers “focusing” on Báez now, and also drops an even more specific number on the Cubs’ previous contract offer:
The Tigers had talked to Marcus Semien, Carlos Correa before recently focusing on Javier Baez, who likely will be less expensive than what Correa, Semien seeking. Baez was offered 8/$168m by Cubs in March 2020 and his camp said no…but COVID hit, interrupted those negotiations.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 26, 2021
Olney has suggested that range before for the Cubs and Báez, though we hadn’t yet seen a number quite that precise. We’ll have to discuss that more soon in the context of the Cubs’ extension efforts, as well as their comfort committing big dollars to a shortstop.
UPDATE 2: Another national reporter has the Tigers talking to Báez, which means someone is really fine with the world knowing this:
No deal in place. Other teams on Báez as well. https://t.co/Oi4RMPpDIB
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 26, 2021
My gut says some team out there is trying to apply pressure on Báez (not the Tigers trying to apply pressure on Correa). Too many reports of the same team and the same name – it just makes me think that Báez and his camp got to the 5 yard-line with a team, it wasn’t quite getting finished, so now they’re using the Tigers to get things done with the first team. We’ll see.