Chicago Cubs will have to wait to talk extension with Javier Baez

Javier Baez / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Javier Baez / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Because of the league-wide roster freeze, any contract extension talks between the Chicago Cubs and Javier Baez will be tabled for the time being.

Late this week, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player’s Association came to terms a wide-ranging framework for the sport’s path forward once the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is a thing of the past.

Part of that agreement puts a roster freeze in place for all organizations, including the Chicago Cubs. While that may not seem like that big of a deal, it also means the front office can’t continue contract extension talks with any players – including Javier Baez.

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Baez, 27, took a bit of a step backward from his NL MVP runner-up 2018 campaign last year, but still represents one of the most dynamic players in all of baseball. The slick-fielding shortstop earned his second consecutive All-Star nod, smacking 38 doubles and 29 home runs in just 138 contests.

As I noted in my piece from Friday, an already rapidly-closing window of contention may be even further down the road than once thought. A canceled 2020 campaign would not stop the service time clock on players, meaning the Cubs (and every other organization) could lose a year of control over their big leaguers.

It seems to be a foregone conclusion that when his rookie contract expires at the end of 2021, Kris Bryant will test free agency. Chicago has one more team option over first baseman Anthony Rizzo after this season, but both could walk at the same time, decimating the Cubs infield. Not to mention Kyle Schwarber and Baez, as well.

One solution to that? Lock up Baez and make him a Cub for life. It’s hard to envision what exactly a long-term deal for a player of his caliber might look like, especially given the recent trend of young players signing long-term deals right out of the gates – thus changing how players are evaluated, especially in terms of extension dollars.

The talks between Baez and the Cubs have been ‘up and down’ this offseason. With the team still over the lowest tier of the competitive balance tax, it’s hard to envision something coming together right away. But then you’re risking Baez putting together a monster showing, thus elevating his asking price even further.

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We’ll see how it plays out. There’s pretty much nothing but uncertainty in the game, and the world for that matter, at this point. But this is a storyline to keep in mind as we await the return of Chicago Cubs baseball.