Cubs, Javier Baez unlikely to talk contract extension until the offseason

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

Javier Baez joined fellow Cubs star Kris Bryant in saying now is not the time.

Despite what some wish to believe, the coronavirus pandemic is looming larger than ever across the United States as cases surge. Meanwhile, the Cubs and the rest of Major League Baseball are attempting to get ready for a shortened 60-game season, set to open on July 23-24.

The economy is limping along, with millions of Americans on unemployment benefits as layoffs continue. Baseball is no exception, as owners have quickly reevaluated the landscape that, as recently as this spring, looked like its usual cash cow self. That being said, it’s easy to foresee circumstances playing out where small market teams (as well as large market ones, too) look to shed big contracts in the coming weeks and months in efforts to cut payroll.

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That puts Cubs owner Tom Ricketts in quite a predicament given his team’s core group of players are in prime contract extension territory, with almost all of them ready to hit free agency in the next two years.

Two of the biggest names on that list are Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. Earlier this week, Bryant reiterated his love of the organization, the city and the fans – but admitted while he may be more open to a new deal than ever before, now wasn’t the time to talk turkey given the struggles so many people are going through right now due to COVID-19. 

On Thursday, Baez joined his teammate, echoing a similar sentiment in a Zoom call with the media from Summer Camp at Wrigley Field, saying, “I’m not in a rush.”

Baez listed several reasons, ranging from the pandemic to the upcoming season. And, to be frank, it makes sense. Owners aren’t likely in a position where they want to come to the table with fair market value offers for players right now – especially one the caliber of Baez, a former National League MVP runner-up.

The Cubs superstar shortstop made that point clear, telling reporters, “Everyone wants to get paid, but we’ve got to wait for the right time. On each side, we’ve got to see and we’ve got to know what’s right for each other.”

The 27-year-old is coming off another strong showing, despite a late-season injury. He batted .281/.316/.531 – good for an .847 OPS, the second-highest of his career. Along with his usual elite defense up the middle for the Chicago infield, he hit four triples, 38 doubles and 29 home runs – further cementing himself as one of the game’s premier talents.

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Don’t expect to see any extension talks between the front office and any of the team’s key players in the coming months. Maybe we’ll see more momentum once the season ends (if it happens) – but right now, like so many other aspects of life, the novel coronavirus is holding all the cards and keeping anything from moving forward.