Javier Baez is no longer just a trade chip
It seems like annually, the Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays are linked in trade rumors. This can be attributed to the team’s ‘opposite’ positions of strength. For Chicago, position player talent still litters the system. In Florida, the Rays have a stock of young, controllable arms – an area the Cubs are looking to improve.
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This time last year, Javier Baez was constantly mentioned as a potential trade chip for the Cubs as they eyed the future. But he silenced those rumors himself, putting up career-best numbers and drastically cutting down his strikeouts from his first taste of the big leagues.
Nicholas Blazek: The biggest story of the year will be the rise of Javier Baez. As you saw with his amazing performance in the World Baseball Classic, Baez is bound for big things in Chicago. The days of trade rumors surrounding Baez are well behind him and he’s ready to shine.
Building off recent successes
Everyone remembers his game-winning home run in Game 1 of the NLCS last season against the Dodgers and the countless outstanding defensive plays he made throughout the year. Add in how he led Team Puerto Rico to a WBC runner-up finish and it’s easy to see why the Cubs are so high on Baez.
In 2016, while playing six positions for Chicago, the former first-rounder batted .273/.314/.423 in a career-high 142 games. His free-swinging nature still needs to improve, as evidenced by his OBP last season. Still, he represents one of the most versatile young talents in all of Major League Baseball.