For his part, Javier Baez hopes to remain with the Cubs past next season.
Last offseason and even into early spring, the Chicago Cubs and Javier Baez were talking parameters of a potential contract extension. Then, COVID-19 hit, derailed the talks (and the 2020 season) and radically transformed the financial outlook for the sport.
With hopes the 2021 campaign will be closer to ‘normal’, one might think the two sides could talk again this winter. But there are plenty of variables at play that could stop that from happening – regardless of how Baez feels about playing on the North Side.
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"“I hope I never leave this city in my whole career, but anything can happen,” Báez said after the team’s season-ending Game 2 loss on Friday. “Hopefully I stay here my whole career … I love the fans, the dedication that they got for this team, and the other teams in the other sports for Chicago. We’ll see what happens and hopefully I’ll stay here.”"
He’ll go through arbitration one final time this offseason – but after turning in a .203/.238/.360 line in 235 plate appearances this year, there likely won’t be a major jump from his initial 2020 salary of $10 million.
By some measures, the two-time All-Star and former NL MVP runner-up was the worst offensive player in all of baseball. In the postseason, it was more of the same for Baez, who went 1-for-8 with three strikeouts in the Wild Card Series against Miami.
A reckoning is at hand for the Cubs and their core. Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber will all hit free agency prior to the 2022 campaign. Given the team’s financial state that was deeply altered by the lack of fans in the shortened-60 game spring this summer, extending even one of those guys becomes more difficult – let alone multiple.
"“I’m pretty sure there’s not another organization like this one,” he said. “I’ve never been in another one but I feel like everybody that comes through here, they don’t want to leave.”"
Regardless of whether or not Baez or any of his teammates want to leave the Cubs – odds are major changes are coming for an organization that once again showcased an inconsistent offense and made another early postseason exit.
With Theo Epstein sitting down with Tom Ricketts to discuss a transition plan this week (Epstein’s contract expires after the 2021 season) – there are tough decisions looming for the front office. Do you call 2020 a fluke for someone like Baez or did you see enough to part ways 12 months from now?