A recent FanSided trade proposal for Cubs shortstop Javier Baez has fans talking.
Before diving into my thoughts and opinions on the matter, it is to acknowledge the Detroit Tigers’ FanSided site Motor City Bengals and give credence to the author’s assertion at the unlikely nature of this trade offer for one of, if not, the most electric players in baseball.
The Chicago Cubs have been on the forefront of the news lately following front office changes and more discussions involving the future of the clubs’ core. Shortstop Javier Baez represents a massive part of that core and remains a long-term extension candidate.
In playing the ‘what-if’ game, however, and diving into the proposal mentioned above, how close to landing Báez could the Tigers come with a package deal such as the one offered, and would the Cubs ultimately bite on such an offer?
Three-for-one prospect heavy package
The three-for-one deal is intriguing and, in all likelihood, not far off in the scope of any club’s offering for a guy like Báez. As a well-established shortstop in the prime of his career, playing in a market such as Chicago, Bàez garners a certain level of approbation.
Sure, his sometimes-erratic swing can get him into trouble, but ultimately if you’re one of the 29 other teams, why wouldn’t you want a guy such as ‘El Mago’? To understand the value, we need to understand the offer on the Tigers side, including shortstop Willi Castro, catcher Jake Rogers and right-handed pitcher Keider Montero.
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I don’t blame a soul for immediately thinking how unfair of a proposition this is as one would instantly assume none of these three guys rise to the level of expectation Báez currently sits. Contrarily when digging into the numbers a bit, it is a surprisingly strong offer and one nearly attractive enough for the Cubs to pull the trigger.
Castro is the centerpiece of the package. Predictably, the 23-year-old shortstop would slide into the lineup and the six spot on the diamond. Acquired by the Tigers from the Cleveland Indians who originally signed him, Castro has enjoyed cups of coffee in back-to-back seasons.
In 2019 he appeared in 30 games, slashing .230/.284/.340, and was well below-average in production. This year something changed as Castro stayed up with the Tigers for over half of the year, this time hitting .349 and posting a 151 wRC+ and 1.3 WAR. He improved on his strikeout rate and slugged a whopping .550 over 140 plate appearances. As a switch-hitter it would only add to the allure of a deal.
Montero is the other prospect in the three-player package and would seemingly be an excellent addition to a Cubs system lacking elite-level pitching talent. Signed in 2016 out of Venezuela, Montero has been in Detroit’s system for three years. He has played above his age-level since coming into the league.
He has continued to produce, growing into his arm. Montero has posted an ERA under three for the past two years and has displayed consistently strong FIP and xFIP numbers. He also carries an elite-level spin rate on his breaking ball, most notably his curveball. Kyle Glaser of Baseball America recently put Montero in his underrated prospects piece.
Rogers is the final piece in the package and is offensively underwhelming. The strength that would come from him, however, is his fielding, which is well above-average. It is an interesting third player I initially thought would be a throwaway, yet that is not the case altogether.
Overall it is not a bad offer by any stretch. The Cubs would get a cost-controllable shortstop prospect who has ranked as a top 10 prospect who seemed to put it together this year. They would also add a potentially future elite starting pitcher to their ranks in the system. Rogers is the tough sell for me personally as the Cubs have substantial depth at the catcher position.
The Cubs need to decide on Báez. As Jed Hoyer steps into his new role, the questions surrounding Báez will continue to surface. The 27-year-old is set to make around $11 million in 2021, and this is the time to trade him if that is the direction. Cubs fans may just need to be patient with the return.