With the Cubs notably looking to extend Javier Baez, we take a look at what a deal could look like and some potential implications
The most essential Cubs off-season in recent memory is here, and many Cubs fans don’t expect the front office to take it lightly. It’s worth noting that Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber all have club control until 2021. That begs the question, which ones should be extended? The Cubs have notably discussed Baez as the first, as ease is one of the reason’s he is the first man up.
With Baez and an extension hopefully looming, we take a look at what some of the details behind a deal could be. At 26 years old, the two-time all-star is set to make around $9.3 million in 2020. Before throwing out numbers for our shortstop, it’d be beneficial to check in on what some of the top-paid shortstops around the league are making.
Currently, Jose Altuve is the league’s highest-paid shortstop with a five-year, $151 million contract signed in 2018. There is a decently sized drop-off from there, as Xander Bogaerts has a six-year, $120 million deal. Altuve seems to be in a league of his own, with a career batting average of .315, six times as an all-star, three-times as the batting title champ, a five-time silver slugger, and MVP winner. Even if the sign-stealing accusations are true and some of Altuve’s numbers become inflated, he is still the only shortstop worthy of $150 million-plus.
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It seems Baez falls more into the Bogaerts range. Both are two-time all-stars, with a silver slugger and World Series in their names (Bogaerts with an extra World Series and two more silver slugger awards). Baez has a career WAR of 16.6, and Bogaerts sits at 19.9, with one extra season under his belt. In terms of career stats, Baez owns a .270 average with a .794 OPS, and Bogaerts sits at a .281 clip with a .801 OPS.
When it’s broken down, I think Bogaerts is a tad bit ahead of Baez, but a deal around $120 million or higher isn’t out of the question. I believe Baez should receive a contract for $100 million-plus, and it should fall between the $100-$120 range, in an ideal six-year deal.
If a deal with Baez gets done, and hopefully sooner-than-later, if so, it begs the question of what happens next? If the Cubs can be proactive with their core, they will have an opportunity to be more flexible and have more clarity for the future. A Bryant deal could be more complicated, but they need to jump on his recent comments saying he would be open to an extension. The decision on Contreras needs to happen soon as well, as that would leave Schwarber’s situation much more straightforward.
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The mystery of the off-season is always about who is being looked at externally, so to have the opportunity to make internal movements to help this team’s future is something that should be excitable and jumped on early, in order to devote more time to outside signings. The Cubs have a tall task at hand, but the fact that the core is already built should take some of the weight off, as long as they make the right moves.