Cubs are now free to make moves – will they extend Javier Baez?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Now free to make moves, will we see the Cubs extend infielder Javier Baez?

The world isn’t what it was back in March when Major League Baseball suspended the season and put a freeze on transactions. Back then, the Cubs and Javier Baez were reportedly close to coming to an agreement on a contract extension – but now, no one really knows where things stand.

As of Friday morning, that freeze lifts and teams are free to start wheeling and dealing. Obviously, Chicago could pick up where it left off and hammer out the final details with Baez. But given the uncertainty surrounding the game not just now, but potentially over the next few years, it’s hard to imagine a new offer would come in anywhere near the numbers the two sides had exchanged prior.

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Owners throughout the game have made their financial situation perfectly clear in comments to the media and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is no exception, saying the losses the team has suffered were of ‘biblical’ proportions. Knowing that and pairing it with reports there are clubs around the league potentially looking to dump contracts before the season makes me pretty skeptical on the Baez extension front.

The last few months have done irreparable damage to the sport and the relationship between owners and players. The back-and-forth cost baseball a shot to be in the national spotlight early this summer and with the CBA expiring ahead of 2022, changes are coming – likely big ones – in the very near future.

Knowing there’s a new CBA less than two years away is just another reason I suspect any and all extension talks between not just the Cubs and Baez – but pretty much all teams and their players – will be tabled for the time being. Owners are reeling after losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue already this year and they’re not going to want to write any check they don’t have to.

Baez will make $10 million in his next-to-last trip through arbitration this season. A contract extension wouldn’t keep that number where it is. In fact, you’re likely looking at at least doubling that annual salary for starters.

Even pre-COVID, we spent all winter hearing how the Cubs didn’t have money to go be players in the free agent market. Theo Epstein was seemingly operating with a mandate to get under the competitive balance tax threshold, something he was unable to do for a variety of reasons.

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I want to see Baez play on the North Side for the rest of his career. Maybe someday, there will be a #9 flag flying down the line on a foul pole at the Friendly Confines. But the odds are certainly stacked against the two sides agreeing on a long-term extension before the season starts next month.