Just how untouchable is Javier Baez to the Chicago Cubs? Now most general managers and team presidents will tell you that no one is untouchable – that is just poker players keeping their cards close to the vest. But let’s be honest – any team could call the Cubs tomorrow and say they’d offer the moon and stars for Kris Bryant and the Cubs would hang up on them.
Baez doesn’t have that same kind of mystique anymore – at least not at the moment. There was a report about manager Joe Maddon wanting Baez up with the Cubs now for his glove, but that has been denied. But even if that was true – is there another reason for having him making the Opening Day squad?
Only a year ago Baez carried as much promise and hype as Bryant and Jorge Soler within the Chicago Cubs organization. Like other big prospects the Cubs have brought up in recent years – he started out with a bang – literally – hitting a game-winning home run in extra innings.
After the quick start, he began to slow down at the plate. With more hitless games, you could tell he was pressing too much and itching to swing and hit one of those tape measure home run shots. All that happened was more strikeouts.
He went into winter ball to work on his swing – trying to cut down on the swing and misses and to get more work in. He did get the work in – he didn’t cut down on any of the strikeouts.
New hitting coach John Mallee worked with him over the winter to fix a few things and make adjustments to his swing. With that work, the hope was that it would carry new results into spring. That hasn’t happened. At the moment, Baez is leading the Chicago Cubs in strikeouts this spring with 14 – two more than the next man Mike Olt.
The Cubs haven’t given up on him yet. If Baez makes the big league club, it does show that the team and Maddon still think he’s the right guy for the team. Even if right now the reason for him being up in the majors is because of his glove and potential for his bat – that’s enough for now.
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But what happens when good enough for now is no longer the case? What if a team like the Mets, the Phillies, or even the Nationals called up and said that they have a young arm they’d like to move and the price is Baez – does that get the attention of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer?
Is there a chance that maybe they are hoping to showcase him for scouts? Or are they just simply giving the kid a chance to play? Time will tell if the call up means anything more – personally I hope it just means that the Cubs are just thinking it is the right time to let him play.